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Chillicothe (Mo.) HS softball girls rack up ninth-straight, Hornets booters snap skid

Paul Sturm
psturm@chillicothenews.com
Junior righthanded pitcher Halle Rucker of the rampaging Chillicothe High School softball Lady Hornets delivers one of the 96 pitches she threw to shut out visiting St. Joseph: Lafayette on three hits in an 8-0 CHS win Monday.

A winning streak was extended while one losing streak was halted and another grew to three in Monday Chillicothe (Mo.) HS sports action in Chillicothe and on the road.

The sizzling-hot softball Lady Hornets received a 3-hits shutout from junior righthanded pitcher Halle Rucker as they improved to 4-0 in the Midland Empire Conference and 9-4 overall with an 8-0 home decision over St. Joseph: Lafayette. It was the Chillicothe squad’s ninth triumph in succession.

At Knob Noster, the soccer Hornets returned to winning ways for the first time since their season opener on Sept. 1 in a 3-0 non-conference victory. Junior goalkeeper Jaxon Albertson got his second shutout of the year as the CHS boys halted a 3-games loss skein.

The volleyball Lady Hornets were ever so close to defeating visiting Marshall in either of the first two games, but wound up with a straight-games loss – 24-26, 23-25, 12-25 – that was their third-consecutive setback.

Leaving CHS evenly balanced for the day, the tennis Lady Hornets had one of their better showings in recent years against long-time regional power Marshall, falling 7-2.

Every CHS fall sports team except football has action scheduled for Tuesday. The lone home competition will be the soccer Hornets welcoming Kirksville at 5 p.m. On the road will be the cross country running teams at St. Joseph: Lafayette’s invitational meet, the tennis girls being at Maryville, the golf girls going to Brookfield, the softball team traveling to Kansas City: St. Pius X, and the volleyball team playing at Kirksville.

Backed by early support, softball’s Rucker gets a goose egg

CHILLICOTHE — After throwing four scoreless innings in a start at Maysville last Thursday, but not getting a decision, junior righthander Halle Rucker of CHS’ soaring softball Lady Hornets stayed strong the entire seven innings Monday in an 8-0 MEC whitewash of St. Joseph: Lafayette.

Her 3-hits complete game was integral to the CHS diamond girls’ ninth victory in a row and their fourth without a defeat in league play. The Lady Hornets remain in sole possession of the MEC lead heading into Tuesday’s game with lowly St. Pius X.

Although she blanked the Lady Irish at Daryl Danner Memorial Park’s red field Monday, H. Rucker (1-2) didn’t have to. She and her teammates scored early and often to set a dominant tone Lafayette never threatened to change.

While the junior righthander was beginning her day in the pitcher’s circle with 3-2/3 hitless innings – the same as she’d done at Maysville last week before fading, the CHS bats continued to boom.

Four of the first five Lady Hornets batters stroked singles and, with the help of a couple of LHS errors, Chillicothe stuck a nice crooked number – a four – on the scoreboard in the opening inning.

“Once again, we were able to score early, which puts pressure on the other team and allows us to settle in on defense and not press too hard in an effort to be perfect,” Lady Hornets first-year head coach Lee Rucker assessed.

“Getting an early lead also gives us a mental advantage.”

With two outs and none on in the home second, a hit batter was followed by singles from extra hitter Mika Hibner and shortstop Kirsten Dunn – already their second each of the day, making it a 5-0 Chillicothe lead.

In the bottom of the fourth, Hibner followed Kinlei Boley’s RBI hit with a run-producing double to left field, pushing the spread to 7-0. Hibner subsequently scored the contest’s last run on a wild pitch.

While going the route, H. Rucker walked only two and struck out. Only two Lady Irish advanced as far as second base and neither beyond there.

For Chillicothe, Hibner had a perfect day, going three for three with two runs scored and two knocked in. Dunn had three hits and a RBI and Boley two hits, two RBI, and three runs. The heart of the order (Nos. 3-5 batters) were a combined eight for 10 with six RBI and six runs scored.

Also having another multi-hits game was leadoff hitter Sophia Luetticke, who went two for four, stole two more bases, and scored the other two CHS runs.

In junior-varsity play, Chillicothe also won by shutout, 5-0, as freshman Hadley Beemer went the 5-innings distance.

Katelyn Fleener provided the primary offensive support with a 2-runs home run and double. Beemer had a single and double, coach Canaan Fairley reports.

Booters punt long scoreless streak in second victory

KNOB NOSTER — Chillicothe’s soccer Hornets had been shut out in three matches in a row since their month- and season-starting 8-0 victory over Cameron. On Monday, just before month’s end, they finally scored and won again.

Unable to play for exactly two weeks, due to planned opponents’ issues with the coronavirus, the Hornets tacked another 40-plus scoreless minutes onto the 240-minutes offensive drought they brought into the action at Knob Noster. However, thanks to solid defense which kept goalkeeper Jaxon Albertson from having to do much, they were able to grab a lead as soon as they did find the back of the net.

In the second minute of the second half, senior forward Mason Baxter got to a corner kick from teammate Drake Cosgrove and directed home his first goal of this season and the 43rd of his career, making it 1-0, CHS.

Only about three minutes later, a Knob Noster foul or illegal play well out toward midfield gave Chillicothe what looked like a chance to develop a scoring threat with a direct free kick from approximately 45 yards, CHS head coach Tim Cunningham detailed. However, senior back Dalton Ripley chose to skip the middle man, his right leg pounding the long drive into the net for a 2-0 CHS advantage.

It stayed right there until the second-to-last minute of the match when forwards Cosgrove and Baxter flipped roles. Baxter’s pass allowed junior Cosgrove to net his team-leading fourth goal of 2020 – half of his full-season total of 2019 and earning Baxter his CHS-high fourth assist of the year.

As noted previously, Albertson achieved the shutout without a lot of difficulty. He was called on to make only one save, CHS statisticians tracked.

“A team effort tonight!” gushed Cunningham. “Our midfield did an outstanding job controlling the game, our attack had several opportunities, and our defense was solid all game.”

For the fifth time in as many matches this fall, Chillicothe (2-3) was involved in a shutout, this time back on the good side.

Volleyball girls couldn’t quite get over hump against Lady Owls Monday

CHILLICOTHE — Playing extremely competitively the first two games, but coming away with nothing to show for it, the CHS volleyball Lady Hornets could not sustain that level any further Monday.

Losing in the volleyball equivalent of overtime in game one, the Lady Hornets reached virtually the same spot in the next game, once more suffering a big emotional blow when Marshall’s Lady Owls won the last rally and the game by two points again.

The third game then got away from them and they didn’t have the emotional or energy reserves to try to chase down Marshall, eventually getting essentially doubled up.

The 24-26, 23-25, 12-25 defeat lowered CHS’ season record to 3-4.

Statistically, according to coach Bob Long, the Lady Hornets got 10 “kills” (spikes) from Maya Snyder and seven from Essie Hicks, those net points aided by 15 Jessica Reeter assists. Delanie Kieffer had team highs of 10 defensive “digs” and seven serving aces. Gracie West made three blocks in net defense.

Chillicothe took the two development-level matches, Long reports.

The junior-varsity Lady Hornets turned back Marshall 25-20, 25-19 as Claire Walker, Anna Fisher, and Trista Tipton connected for six “kills” apiece and Halle Hill and Allison Higgins delivered 11 and 10 assists, respectively.

CHS’ freshmen took their match 25-17, 27-25. In the opening game, Alice Hurtgen had eight service winners, a number Madison Albaugh topped with 10 in the second game. Maci Johnson was the Lady Hornets’ best scoring threat at the net, Long noted.

Slightly-better showing against Marshall for tennis girls

MARSHALL — While nothing to crow too much about, the Chillicothe High tennis Lady Hornets’ 2-7 loss at Marshall technically was their most-successful showing against the long-time tennis powerhouse in six years.

From 2015-19, Chillicothe’s girls either were shut out or earned a solitary win in their annual best-of-9-sets regular-season matches with MHS.

Thus, when junior Olivia Anderson fought her way to a narrow 8-6 decision in No. 6 singles Monday, CHS could claim marginal progress against the measuring stick.

Anderson’s singles verdict capped a perfect day for her and continued her strong showing of late.

She and freshman Rylee Washburn had paired to take No. 3 doubles 9-7 earlier in the match, creating the opportunity for an improved overall team finish.

Anderson now has back-to-back singles victories to her credit and three wins in her last four. In doubles, she’s emerged victorious four times in a row – the first three with classmate Audrey Snider.

Monday’s top sets in each style of play saw Marshall cruise to victory, as anticipated.

First, in doubles, Lady Owls Claudia Cruz and Lakeshia Thomas prevailed over CHS seniors Delaney May and Megan Sisson 8-2. Then, in singles, Cruz dispatched May by the same count.

Aside from Anderson’s wins, the closest Chillicothe came to another set victory was in No. 5 singles, in which Washburn was defeated 4-8.

Chillicothe took two of the six junior-varsity sets played. Freshman Izzy Garr continued to show a potentially-promising future with a 6-3 singles triumph and Bryton BeVelle and Mallory Grable took a doubles set 6-0.

Sophomore shortstop Kirsten Dunn of the 2020 Chillicothe (Mo.) HS softball Lady Hornets strides into a sixth-inning pitch she'd stroke for her third hit of CHS' 9th win in a row, an 8-0 home decision over St. Joseph: Lafayette in Midland Empire Conference action Monday, Sept. 28.