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Softball Sweep Highlights Mixed-Bag Thursday for Chillicothe (Mo.) HS Teams

Paul Sturm
psturm@chillicothenews.com
Chillicothe (Mo.) HS golf Lady Hornets senior Hallie Jones sends an iron shot from the fairway toward the hole during Thursday's (Sept. 24, 2020) Chillicothe Invitational Tournament at Green Hills Golf Course. Jones took second in the individual standings with an 18-holes score of 82.

Two of Chillicothe (Mo.) HS’ varsity sports teams involved in team competition Thursday (Sept. 24, 2020) squeaked by Grand River Conference-East Division opponents, while a fourth sport – not involved in team play – had an individual finish high in CHS’ annual home tournament.

Although they needed extra innings on both occasions to do so, the softball Lady Hornets swept a non-conference road doubleheader at 2018 Class 1 state champion Maysville – 6-5 in eight and 7-6 in six – to extend their winning streak to eight games in a row.

The tennis Lady Hornets’ road match at Trenton went down to the last set to finish – No. 6 singles – before Olivia Anderson shaded her opponent 9-7 to tip the dual duel CHS’ way by a 5-4 count.

In the Chillicothe Invitational girls’ golf tourney, with only three of its players on hand, CHS could not produce a team score, but senior Hallie Jones did earn second place in the medalist standings with an 82.

Thursday was a downer, result-wise, for the soccer Hornets as they fell to guest Savannah 2-0 in a conference match. However, just having a chance to compete was a victory of sorts for the CHS booters, who had not been in competition for exactly two weeks, due to COVID-19 issues for would-be opponents.

“It was fun to watch the guys compete after a 2-weeks layoff,” soccer Hornets head coach Tim Cunningham observed.

“Hopefully, we can build on the experiences from (this) match and continue to improve moving forward.”

Thursday originally was also to have seen the volleyball team in competition at St. Joseph: Lafayette, as well, but that was postponed, due to COVID problems for LHS.

Softball Lady Hornets slip by tough Maysville twice on road

MAYSVILLE — The CHS diamond girls looked like they had a good grip on both games of Thursday’s doubleheader with the undefeated leader of the Grand River Conference’s East Division, then had to respond when Maysville, which followed its 2018 state crown with a third-place finish last year, made major bids to snatch one or both away.

Facing the Lady Wolverines a couple of weeks earlier than scheduled in order to fill a hole in their slate left by postponement of their game with COVID-19-sidelined St. Joseph: Benton, the Lady Hornets carried a 5-0 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning of game one of the doubleheader.

However, a seemingly-innocuous error, given that 5-runs margin, opened the door for a last-gasp rally MHS’ Sadie Smith capped with a 2-outs, 3-runs home run that tied the game and sent it to extra innings.

Calmly, Sophia Luetticke led off the eighth with her fourth hit, Hope Helton bunted her to second, and Kinlei Boley ripped her fourth hit of the contest to score Luetticke and push CHS back in front, 6-5.

This time, it stuck as Boley (6-2) retired the Lady Wolverines in order in the home eighth to finish her fourth complete game of the season. The sophomore righthander threw only 105 pitches, 85 of which (81%) were called or swinging strikes or put in play.

The 4-hits games by Boley and Luetticke were not statistical outliers, per se, since Boley entered Thursday’s action with a batting average in the .560s and Luetticke was in the .510s.

Also having multi-hits contests as part of Chillicothe’s 18-hits attack on S. Smith were Mika Hibner with three and Bre Pithan with two.

Among Boley’s hits was a first-pitch home run leading off the fifth to snap a 0-0 deadlock. Her second circuit clout of the season and in as many games meant Chillicothe had hit home runs in 3-consecutive games.

Having successfully escaped after blowing the 5-0 lead in the final scheduled inning of the opener, the Lady Hornets virtually repeated that scenario in the nightcap, which was ticketed for 90 minutes, CHS head coach Lee Rucker reported.

A CHS run in the second inning as the Lady Hornets played as the home team on the foreign field, two in the third, and one in the fourth again, with the time limit at hand, left them three outs away from a potential shutout win.

Once more, Maysville said, “Uh, uh. Nothing doing.”

Having not touched Chillicothe senior starting pitcher Halle Rucker for a hit until two were out in the fourth inning, the Lady Wolverines lived up to their mascot name and attacked ferociously when again backed into a corner.

After Rucker got the second out of the inning following a double, five singles in a row were strung together by MHS. That last of them drove in the tying run and, when misplayed in the outfield, resulted in the lead run racing home from first base, as well.

Mollie Ellis, like Rucker one of Chillicothe’s only three seniors, replaced her classmate at pitcher and got an inning-ending groundout to keep the now-CHS deficit at a run, 5-4.

When Hibner and Kirsten Dunn, each of whom had doubled in a run their last times up, were retired on catches by the MHS center field, the sweep the Lady Hornets had seemed poised to complete not long before, as well as their 7-games winning streak, were circling the drain.

As happened to Chillicothe – at least on first try – in both games, Maysville couldn’t close the deal.

With two outs, none on, and a 1-run deficit, the righthanded-swinging Ellis punched a single to right field on a 2-2 pitch. Then, a wild pitch on an 0-1 delivery to CHS’ third senior, Brooke Horton, put the potential tying run in scoring position.

That proved critical as, after fouling off a 1-2 pitch to get to see another, Horton laced a game-knotting single to right. Although another wild pitch let her move up to second base, she was stranded there and the teams again were going to play “free softball.”

Ellis got the first out of the top of the sixth, but a swinging strike three to the next batter got away from the catcher and the batter reached safely. A walk moved that runner to second base and both tagged and advanced on a fly out to center field.

A Chillicothe miscue on a ground ball by the next batter allowed Maysville to reclaim a 1-run lead, but, after Ellis threw out the next batter to limit the damage to a single unearned marker, the Lady Wolverines once again couldn’t close CHS out.

The speedy Luetticke began the bottom of the sixth with an infield hit to the left side, then stole second base on the first pitch to Hope Helton and swiped third on the next.

With the potential tying run at third and no outs, Maysville gambled for the win, trying to throw Luetticke out at home on Helton’s grounder to second. However, under the pressure of her speed, the play wasn’t made in time, not only tying the score, but not getting any out and having Helton aboard.

That decision, while it ultimately might not have made a difference, did set up a better chance for Chillicothe to win and it pounced.

Following a fly out, cleanup hitter Hibner ripped a drive past the center fielder, allowing Helton to score the walk-off winner all the way from first base.

That last hit put Chillicothe at 10 for the second game, including two apiece by Hibner, Dunn, Luetticke, and winning reliever Ellis (2-0). However, none of the 10 hits were home runs this time.

Hibner, who drove in two runs in the finale, finished the night five for nine, while Luetticke – two for two with two runs, two walks, and two steals in game two – went six for seven on the evening. Dunn joined Boley in having four hits in the twinbill.

With her sizzling night with the stick, Luetticke rocketed her batting average to .565, passing Boley, who “slipped” to .537 while finishing four for nine. Prior to game two, Boley was at .595.

The streaking CHS softball squad will try to further stretch its winning ways at home on Monday when it makes up its early-September postponement against MEC foe St. Joseph: Lafayette.

Jones Captures Second-Place Trophy in Home Tournament

CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — With not enough available players to have a team score, Chillicothe’s golf Lady Hornets were out for individual achievement in Thursday’s annual Chillicothe Invitational Tournament at Green Hills Golf Course. Each succeeded by different measures.

While she didn’t realize her top ambition of being the tourney medalist, senior standout Hallie Jones’ 40-42–82 did make her runnerup in the event, five shots back of Lawson’s Elli Smith, who – by her and her coach/father’s admissions – fired a career-best (in tournament play) 37-40–77 on the par-72 course.

The other two Chillicothe players in action – juniors Brooklyn Williams and Abbey Hayen – each registered the best-ever scores for an 18-holes tournament. Williams posted a 57-50–107 and Hayen a 64-57–121. Williams, a second-year player, had a prior tourney-best of 110 earlier this season and first-year participant Hayen’s previous two tourney scores had been 135 and 124.

The team champion turned out to be Cameron with a low-4 total of 379, even though its best individual score was an 89, the fifth-best personal round. The Lady Dragons had an 18-strokes margin over second-place Kirksville.

Among the 11 medal winners – there was a 4-ways tie for the eighth-best score of 96 – was Southwest Livingston senior Makenna Campbell. She placed seventh individually with a 50-45–95. Lone teammate Lily Webb came around in 106.

The Chillicothe golf girls’ next action will not be, as originally slated, the Midland Empire Conference Tournament next Monday (Sept.28), but rather a Tuesday dual match at Brookfield.

Because of several MEC schools’ current COVID-19 quarantines, the conference tourney, of which Jones is the defending champion, has been reset for Wednesday, Oct. 7, at the Fairview Golf Course in St. Joseph.

Anderson Grinds Out Clutch, Match-Clinching Win for Tennis Lady Hornets

TRENTON — Having posted a tougher-than-the-score 7-2 home-match win over Trenton earlier this fall, the CHS tennis Lady Hornets predictably found the going tougher when they traveled to Trenton Thursday.

However, when the going got tough, Chillicothe – and junior Olivia Anderson – got going.

Having earlier paired with freshman Rylee Washburn for an 8-3 No. 3 doubles triumph which gave CHS a 2-1 lead in the match going to singles play, Anderson found herself on the THS courts in her No. 6 singles set with the match outcome riding on the result of that position’s play.

The Chillicothe 11th grader and Lydia Leininger, neither of whom had played singles in the previous match in Chillicothe, locked into a tooth-and-nail battle that, after 15 games in the “pro-8” scoring format, still was not decided.

Heading to the 16th game, Anderson led 8-7 with a 12-points tiebreaker between her and Leininger looming to settle the team match, if the Lady Bulldog took the next game.

However, the CHS player didn’t let it come down to the do-or-die tiebreaker, winning the final game to secure a 9-7 victory in No. 6 singles and giving the visitors a second 2020 win over a team they seem likely to meet again in the upcoming district-tournament semifinals. By virtue of Thursday’s very narrow escape, Chillicothe almost certainly would host that third clash.

The Lady Hornets’ triumph over Trenton Thursday saw the Anderson/Washburn 8-3 victory in No. 3 doubles complement the 8-4 verdict gained by CHS’ No. 2 pair of Cami Carpenter and Leah Lourenco.

Carpenter and Lourenco, unbeaten in No. 2 doubles action this year, were back together at that spot at Trenton because senior top player Delaney May was back in the lineup after about a 2-weeks absence.

In her return, the rusty May dropped No. 1 singles to Lexi Gott 1-8 after combining with senior classmate Megan Sisson in a 3-8 setback against Morgan Dolan and Gott in No. 1 doubles.

With the 1-set edge after doubles, Chillicothe needed only a split of the six singles sets and that’s exactly what it got, thanks to Anderson in the end.

Sophomore Carpenter provided one of the Lady Hornets’ three singles victories at No. 2, winning handily, 8-2.

The other Chillicothe win came from Washburn as the ninth grader took No. 5 play 8-4.

Sisson lost 3-8 at No. 3 and Lourenco was bested 4-8 at No. 4.

The team victory lifted Chillicothe’s dual-matches record to 5-3 (incorrectly reported in the C-T as 3-4 following the previous dual).

Thursday’s action ended with four junior-varsity sets – two each in singles and doubles. CHS won three of them, including singles decisions for Audrey Snider and Izzy Garr and a doubles triumph for Mallory Grable and Bryton BeVelle.

The Chillicothe tennis girls will travel to Marshall Monday to face the vaunted Lady Owls program in a 4 p.m. match.

Back on pitch for match after 2-weeks hiatus, Chillicothe HS soccer Hornets blanked for third time in row

CHILLICOTHE, Mo. — Idle for two weeks as projected opponents were felled by COVID-19 complications, Chillicothe’s soccer Hornets discovered Thursday they had not yet found their misplaced scoring touch.

Blanked in their two most-recent outings following a season-beginning 8-0 home win, the CHS booters sustained a third-successive shutout setback, 2-0, at the hands of a confident-in-tight-spaces Savannah Savages squad.

The home loss lowered Chillicothe’s record to 1-3 both in the MEC and overall.

The Hornets next will give usually-salty Kirksville a try on Tuesday at home.

Even as the CHS boys’ string of scoreless minutes reached 200 minutes when they didn’t tally in the first half against Savannah, they at least found themselves still on even terms. A first half in which each side had only one true scoring chance ended nil-nil.

That changed early in the final half, though.

Not quite 3-1/2 minutes into the segment, a Chillicothe player had the ball on his foot about 20 yards short of midfield, but didn’t get it turned upfield successfully.

Savannah, which decisively dominated the close-quarters play all match, took the ball away and initiated a push toward the CHS goal on the offensive right side.

While still beyond the Hornets’ penalty area, the Savages slipped the ball from the far right wing to a slot about 10 yards closer to the middle. There, a SHS player dribbled forward a few strides, then, as a Chillicothe defender advanced toward him, directed a moderately-paced pass toward the middle of the pitch where midfielder Jayden Arn was hurrying forward with a Hornets player close to him.

Even with the defender in his shadow, Arn struck the ball with his right foot on the dead run and managed to angle a turf-hugger just inside the far (defensive right) goalpost, beyond diving goalkeeper Jaxon Albertson’s reach. With 43:26 elapsed in the match, Savannah had the first goal.

That would have been enough to win, it turned out, but the Savages took out some insurance with just over 15 minutes remaining.

With Chillicothe having managed only a couple of fairly-distant, modestly-paced shots that the SHS netminder handled routinely, Savannah continued to pressure the Hornets’ defense, even if not getting many shots cleanly through to Albertson.

However, in the 64th minute, nice maneuvering by a Savages attacker resulted in a right-side shot which sharply tested the ’keeper. While he made the save, he could not control the rebound, which a teammate tried to clear away to the west side of Bob Fairchild Field.

The ball drifted toward the sideline, but was run onto by Savannah, which, with a couple of quick, accurate passes, led to midfielder Austin Kretzer having just enough space to loft a high, looping shot from about 25 yards out that drifted just over the leaping Albertson’s upraised arms and settled into the netting of the south goal for a 2-0 SHS lead.

Despite the need to score a couple of times to try to force overtime, Chillicothe had only one more try on the SHS net. While it was a good one, the Savages goalkeeper had himself in the right spot to have it carom off his body and toward a teammate, who easily directed it back upfield.

At the other end, Savannah kept up enough pressure to force the Hornets to play the full 120 yards. In the final few minutes, the Savages fired another shot that got past Albertson, but this one rang off the right goalpost and stayed in play, keeping things at 2-0.

According to Chillicothe statisticians, Albertson made four saves in the match.

Cognizant of the impact of the lengthy lack of competition, Cunningham mulled for local media, “Hopefully, we can build on the experiences from (this) match and continue to improve moving forward.”

Thursday’s junior-varsity play saw Chillicothe get two goals from Nate King and one from Sam Reeter as it bested Savannah 3-0.

Junior goalkeeper Jaxon Albertson of the 2020 Chillicothe (Mo.) HS soccer Hornets slides on the artificial turf in front of the CHS net to make one of his four saves in Thursday's (Sept. 24) 2-0 home loss to Savannah. Both Savages goals came in the second half as Chillicothe played its first match in two weeks.