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Chillicothe (Mo.) HS Softball, Boys' Soccer Squads Dominate Tuesday Action

Paul Sturm
psturm@chillicothenews.com
Drake Cosgrove, Chillicothe (Mo.) HS soccer Hornets junior forward, propels a corner kick toward the Kirksville goal mouth in the 18th minute of the teams' Tuesday (Sept. 29, 2020) non-conference match at Chillicothe's Jerry Litton Memorial Stadium II. Cosgrove's well-aimed and -executed kick ricocheted off a KHS player into the net for his fifth goal of the season, giving his team a 2-0 lead. CHS went on to win, 5-0.

Whether by whack or walk, the red-hot softball Lady Hornets of Chillicothe (Mo.) HS sent a nearly-never-ending wave of baserunners around the circuit Tuesday (Sept. 29, 2020) as they made Kansas City’s St. Pius X Lady Warriors their 10th-straight victim, 16-1 in three innings.

Back in Chillicothe, the soccer Hornets salved the three wounds inflicted on them by Kirksville last year, doing all of the scoring in a 5-0 non-conference home triumph.

CHS’ golf Lady Hornets, still with only three players available and thus ineligible for team competition, had senior Hallie Jones again post the best score in a 9-holes match – a 43 this time – as they hosted two Southwest Livingston players and the Brookfield team.

The tennis Lady Hornets, facing a long day Wednesday when the Midland Empire Conference Non-Team Championships tournament will be played at St. Joseph, followed a trip south to Marshall Monday with the 2-hours journey north to Maryville Tuesday. For their time and trouble, they were dealt a 6-3 MEC defeat.

Also in competition Tuesday, the volleyball Lady Hornets dropped a 4-games match at Kirksville, taking the opening game before losing the next three.

Softball blowout keeps Lady Hornets on path to league crown

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Chillicothe diamond girls (10-4, 5-0 conf.) didn’t figure to have much trouble gaining their fifth conference win without a loss this fall, but the task became even easier when St. Pius X’s pitcher had great difficulty throwing strikes and Lady Hornets batters punished the ball when she did.

Game totals of 10 CHS hits – only one for extra bases – and 11 bases on balls issued by SPX’s two hurlers led to a 16-1 3-innings contest terminated by the 15-runs-lead after three innings “mercy rule.”

“St Pius’ pitcher struggled to find the strike zone at times, but we did a good job hitting when she did,” recounted Lee Rucker, Chillicothe head coach.

The game began ominously for the north Kansas City Catholic school when none of the first six batters of the game put the ball in play, but Chillicothe already possessed a 2-0 lead.

Sophia Luetticke was hit by a 3-0 pitch to start the game. A walk, a strikeout, and three more free passes followed. When finally a Lady Hornet put the ball between the white lines, Brooke Horton’s infield hit toward shortstop boosted the CHS lead to 3-0 before starting pitcher Halle Rucker threw her first pitch.

After H. Rucker, who threw only one frame, worked around a 1-out double and follow-up infield single to keep it 3-0 after one inning, Chillicothe blew a gigantic hole in the contest.

Parading 16 batters to the dish, it stroked eight hits and scored a dozen times. The last 11 markers were posted after two outs, including two strolling home during a stretch of four walks in a row.

After one last walk and H. Rucker’s second single of the game made it 16-0 in the top of the third, the home team used a walk from reliever and winning pitcher Ellis (3-0) and two 1-out singles to get on the scoreboard. However, with the runner at second representing continuation of the contest to a fourth frame, the senior righthander struck out two in a row to end it as early as possible.

Statistically for Chillicothe, junior Mika Hibner was two for two, giving her hits in 6-consecutive  at-bats, seven in her last eight, and 10 for 14 over the last four games. That has spiked her batting average to .465, making her one of five Lady Hornets above .400.

Two – Luetticke (.577) and Kinlei Boley (.522) – are hitting safely in more than half of their official at-bats. Luetticke also had a perfect day with the bat at Kansas City, going two for two with three runs scored and one driven in. That leaves her an unconscious 18 for her last 25 (.720 average).

Also going two for two in Tuesday’s 10-hits attack was H. Rucker.

“It was good to have another game with 10 hits or more,” her coach/father observed.

At 5-0 in the conference now, the Lady Hornets need only win one of their final two MEC games to clinch at least a share of the conference crown. Taking both would make them outright champs. After taking the title six times between 2003-11, Chillicothe has not claimed one since.

Their first chance to get that needed win is slated to be next Monday when they visit St. Joseph: Bishop LeBlond. The Lady Golden Eagles are 1-5 in the loop after being shut out 10-0 in five innings by Maryville Tuesday.

The other remaining MEC contest for CHS is the postponed game at St. Joseph: Benton, which will be made up some time next week, according to CHS director of athletics Dan Nagel.

Soccer Hornets shackle tamer Tigers

By PAUL STURM, C-T Sports Editor

CHILLICOTHE — Beaten soundly by Kirksville three times last year, the Chillicothe soccer Hornets partially returned the favor against a graduation-degraded 2020 Tigers team Tuesday.

With KHS having graduated one player who scored nine goals in the three matches against CHS in 2019 and another who was perhaps Kirksville’s best all-around player, the Hornets wasted little time in testing the foe’s new-look lineup. They found it far less formidable, especially on defense.

Several times in the first five minutes, Chillicothe (3-3) probed at the Tigers’ back line and found there might be exploitable weaknesses. In the seventh minute, another Hornets test was failed.

Junior forward Ben Cueni-Smith collected a ball in space about 30-40 yards out from the KHS goal. Moving around a defender toward the offensive right sideline as teammate Mason Baxter read the move and bolted from the right side toward the middle of Bob Fairchild Field to create a potential passing opportunity for Cueni-Smith.

Using the full width of the field to buy time and space for Baxter, Cueni-Smith drew a Tigers back toward him and, just before that man arrived, hooked a hard, low airborne pass past him toward the middle and just inside the Kirksville penalty area. Anticipating that, Baxter, after lingering momentarily atop the KHS “18,” dashed forward past a weakside defender to intersect with the nearly-head-high cross, heading it into the goal from about 14 yards. Only 6:22 into the match, the Hornets led.

That was a positive sign, since each of their five previous 2020 matches had seen the winner do so by shutout. This one eventually would follow that template.

Growing more and more confident of their ability to force Kirksville miscues or coverage failures, Chillicothe repeatedly attacked. About 10-1/2 minutes after Baxter scored his second goal of the season and 44th of his Hornets career, the CHS lead doubled.

Under pressure, Kirksville sent the ball over its own end line, presenting Chillicothe with already the third of many corner kicks it got in the match.

On his third try from the offensive right corner, junior Drake Cosgrove right-footed a hard, head-high drive that a couple of teammates and several Tigers leaped to try to play. A Kirksville player managed to do so, but only succeeded in unintentionally deflecting the ball toward and into his own net for a 2-0 Chillicothe lead and Cosgrove’s team-high fifth goal of the season at 17:43.

Only a few minutes later, just past the mid-point of the opening half, a Hornet sent the ball forward from around midfield, seemingly in a spot where one of two Kirksville backs could control it. However, as the two tried to decide which would do that, sophomore reserve forward Sam Reeter sped in, tapped the ball away from them toward the KHS goal, caught up to it, and pulled a left-footed, ground-ball shot into the left corner of the net at 21:53. The unassisted tally made it 3-0, Chillicothe, a score which remained that way until halftime.

When play resumed for the second 40 minutes, the Hornets immediately continued to press the attack, causing more anxious moments for Kirksville and its goalkeeper.

After one fine scoring chance didn’t work out, Chillicothe capitalized once more.

As the Tigers tried to advance the ball across midfield, a Hornet stepped up and played the ball long and hard back down the middle of the pitch, catching the KHS backs far upfield.

Reaching the ball easily onside and with lots of green turf around him, Cueni-Smith appeared to have a stellar chance to dribble in for a one-on-one battle with the ’keeper from 25 yards.

However, after a touch or two, rather than risk being caught from behind or angled off from the side, the junior either heard or sensed the speedy Baxter blazing past the lone Kirksville back trying to hastily retreat and, measuring his steps, sent a long, well-paced and well-placed pass toward the area in front of Baxter, but short of the Kirksville penalty area. The placement kept the netminder from coming out to try to play it and the pace allowed Baxter, the CHS program’s fourth-all-time leading goal scorer, to reach it with a good shooting angle after having out-run the pursuing back.

With relative ease, Baxter sent his right-footed shot home from about 18 yards at the 48:12 mark for his 45th career goal, two less than No. 3 all-time Hornets scorer Derek Hussey.

With the comfortable lead, the Hornets made sure they didn’t take unnecessary risks trying to add to their total and potentially give Kirksville a chance to get on the scoreboard and gain some hope.

Within the last 10 minutes, KHS’ seemingly-best player, Michael Vorkink did make a series of brilliant moves on the dribble, slipping through traffic to get within about 10 yards of the CHS goal with room to shoot. However, while he pulled the low shot past goalkeeper Jaxon Albertson toward the far right (defensive perspective) side of the net, its angle took it right into the goalpost, bouncing a few yards back onto the field of play. As several players from each team battled to control it, the ball finally was directed back upfield.

The match’s last scoring came from Hornets midfielder Chace Corbin off yet another corner kick. With just over four minutes left, S. Reeter hooked a high drive from the right side into the area about six or seven yards in front of the KHS goal. As several taller or higher-jumping players from each side leaped to get a piece of it, the more-diminutive Ch. Corbin lurked just behind them, in case they all missed connections or didn’t redirect the ball elsewhere.

The ball ended up bouncing off Baxter right to Ch. Corbin, who knocked in his third goal of the season from about seven yards with exactly four minutes left.

“Outstanding team performance once again,” praised long-time Hornets head coach Tim Cunningham, referencing the previous evening’s 3-0 victory at Knob Noster. “Our energy, effort and enthusiasm were incredible throughout the match.”

Statistically for Chillicothe, Albertson earned his third shutout of the season, stopping five shots on frame.

The coach noted that Albertson didn’t have many Kirksville threats to defuse to get his latest whitewash.

“Our defenders – Dalton Ripley, Wyatt Brandsgaard, Ethan Gabrielson and Logan Distler – did a great job all night against their attack,” he saluted, “and our attack was on-point all match.”

Baxter led the CHS attack with the two goals and his team-leading fifth assist. Cueni-Smith’s two assists give him three for the year.

Following the varsity action, Chillicothe’s jayvees posted a 2-1 win. S. Reeter had both Hornets goals, Cunningham noted.

Next for the soccer Hornets is to be a Thursday match at usually-staunch Concordia: St. Paul Lutheran.

Jones paces still-shorthanded CHS golfers

CHILLICOTHE — While sophomores Maddie Ellis and Skyler Powers remain out of action, the other three CHS golf Lady Hornets carried on with their season Tuesday, playing at home against opponents from Brookfield and Southwest Livingston.

With Southwest having only two players itself, there was no team aspect to the competition.

Instead, individual scoring was the only measuring stick and that saw CHS senior star Hallie Jones and Brookfield’s Demi Downey shoot matching 43s to share match-medalist distinction. Not far back was Southwest Livingston’s Makenna Campbell with a 47.

While Jones’ round was a stroke-plus over her 9-holes average for the season, teammate Brooklyn Williams shot four strokes under hers with a 53. Another CHS junior, Abbey Hayen finished in 62 shots, a smidgen under her season average.

SLHS’ Lily Webb had a solid 55. Brookfield’s second-best score was a fine 50 by Carly Clarkson.

Chillicothe’s next slated action is Thursday at Lawson.

May returns to winning ways in tennis singles

MARYVILLE — Perhaps regaining her feel after missing more than a week recently as a health precaution, Chillicothe tennis Lady Hornets senior Delaney May posted her first No. 1 singles win in a while at Maryville Tuesday during a MEC match the host Lady Spoofhounds took 6-3.

The Lady Hornet and opponent Arianne Skidmore went into “overtime,” needing a tiebreaker to decide their set after splitting the first 16 games. In the tiebreaker, it was almost all May, winning seven of the nine points to capture the set 9-8 (7-2).

That was one of two singles victories for Chillicothe. Freshman Rylee Washburn posted an 8-5 verdict at No. 5 position.

While Maryville doubled CHS in the sets-won total, the match wasn’t that far from flipping to the visitors.

After MHS took the Nos. 1 and 2 doubles to lead going to singles, the Lady ’Hounds picked up an 8-5 decision over Leah Lourenco at No. 4 singles and an 8-6 triumph at No. 6, denying Lady Hornet Olivia Anderson another perfect day. Anderson and Washburn already had won No. 3 doubles 8-4.

Had Chillicothe reversed the result of just a couple of games in those Nos. 4 and 6 singles sets, it might have slipped away a 5-4 victor.

In the No. 1 doubles, Maryville’s Skidmore and Lauren Cullen handled May and Megan Sisson 8-3. The hosts took No. 2 doubles even more decisively, 8-1, over Cami Carpenter and Lourenco.

In No. 2 singles, Carpenter also sustained an 8-1 setback. Sisson dropped the No. 3 play 4-8.

With Tuesday’s team outcome, Chillicothe sank to 5-4 overall in duals and finished 3-4 in the conference.

In junior-varsity competition, CHS won two of three doubles sets and split two singles. Doubles victories were taken by Audrey Snider/Izzy Garr and Mallory Grable/Tayler Epperson. Bryton BeVelle gained the singles win.

Volleyball Lady Hornets sputter after successful opening lap on road

KIRKSVILLE — Chillicothe’s volleyball Lady Hornets battled their way to a tough opening-game win on the road Tuesday, but then ran out of gas before a late refill nearly produced their first-ever 5-games regular-season match.

First-year coach Bob Long’s CHS squad earned a 25-20 verdict in the opening game of its non-conference match at Kirksville, but then was dominated by 25-13 margins in each of the next two.

With the momentum squarely on the hosts’ side, the Lady Hornets battled to neutralize it in the fourth game and succeeded, to a degree.

Eventually, Chillicothe stood only a point behind at 23-24. If it could win the next rally and then get the better of the Lady Tigers in overtime, it would send the match to a decisive fifth game, a destination CHS is yet to visit in this first, transitional year of best-of-5 matches in Missouri prep volleyball.

However, that 48th point of game four was won by Kirksville, wrapping up the game 25-23 and the match at 3-1.

Statistically for the Lady Hornets (3-5), Long relays, junior Essie Hicks had a strong showing with a team-most seven “kills” (spikes) and 10 serving aces. Sophomore Jessica Reeter led the setting with 10 assists and shared the team lead in defensive “digs” with senior Maya Snyder with four each. Snyder also had four “kills” and Anna Fischer five serving aces.

In development-level play, Chillicothe continued to prosper. The junior-varsity won in three games – 15-25, 25-13, 25-25, according to Long, and the freshman team did likewise – 25-22, 18-25, 25-19.

The CHS spikers now are idle until hosting Trenton next Tuesday.

With a Kirksville player anticipating him driving the ball up the west sideline of Bob Fairchild Field, junior outside back Logan Distler of the 2020 Chillicothe (Mo.) HS soccer Hornets sends the ball behind the Tiger and up the field during the opening half of CHS' 5-0 home triumph Tuesday (Sept. 29). Distler and fellow backs Dalton Ripley, Ethan Gabrielson, and Wyatt Brandsgaard were saluted by head coach Tim Cunningham for their play in the team's second shutout win in as many days.