The Chillicothe Lady Hornets softball team entered the district tournament as the #1 seed after winning the Midland Empire Conference again this season. The Lady Hornets traveled to Heritage Park in St. Joseph on Saturday morning to take on #4 Lafayette, after the Fighting Irish defeated #5 Cameron in the first round of the tournament to advance to the district semifinal.
Lafayette started strong with a run in the opening inning to take the lead as Lily Bridges batted home Delaney McQuiston. Chillicothe responded right away by scoring three runs in their first chance to bat. Hope Donoho, Jolie Bonderer and Hadley Beamer each scored for the Hornets, coming off RBIs from Bonderer and Ellie Acree. Chillicothe extended their lead in the 2nd inning when Charley Peniston’s bunt scored Isabelle FitzPatrick.
With the Fighting Irish trailing by 3, that is when their sophomore slugger stepped up to the plate. Emily Dulcan hit three homeruns in the game, one each in the 3rd, 5th and 6th innings. Two of the deep shots over the fence occurred with Javen Nolan on base, which tallied 5 runs batted in during just those 3 plate appearances.
Chillicothe found themselves trailing 10-6 midway through the 6th inning but there was no quit in the Lady Hornets. Peniston, Landry Marsh and Bonderer all scored in the 6th along with an RBI single from Beamer. It was a big response from the team to keep the Hornets within striking distance.
Landry Marsh recorded her 6th and 7th strikeouts of the game in the 7th inning to maintain just a one run deficit going into the final sequence. Defensively, shortstop Bonderer had an action packed game, making numerous tough catches and fielding several ground balls.
With the pressure on, and the Hornets down one run Hayden Hansen walked up to the plate for her first at-bat of the game. She delivered a well driven ground ball all the way to the fence in left field that resulted in a lead off triple. However, Chillicothe was not able to capitalize due to Lafayette pitcher Brynsli Mckinney recording two strikeouts in the final inning along with sharp defense behind her for the Irish. Lafayette held on to pull off the upset 10-9 and the Fighting Irish advance to the district championship.
The Chillicothe Lady Hornets softball team concludes their season with a 17-13 record and a Midland Empire Conference championship. Congratulations to Coach Lee Rucker and his team on a great season.