The Maryville softball team struggled to find any offensive rhythm against dominant pitching, and the Spoofhounds finished their season 5-21 with an 11-0 loss in five innings to No. 1 seed Chillicothe in the first round of district play Oct. 12 in Chillicothe, Missouri.
Coach Chandra DeMott came out of the Benton tournament, held in St. Joseph Oct. 9, with a new defensive lineup that she felt performed well.
“We had several games this weekend, tournament experience, which actually kind of ended up being good for us,” DeMott said. “We found a couple of different defensive rotations for us that we ended up using one of those tonight. ... We ended up having a really good defensive game tonight.”
DeMott adjusted the defensive lineup by moving junior Miquela Geisken from catcher to first base and freshman Alyssa Cunningham to fill Geisken’s void at catcher.
Freshman Emma Sprague got the starting pitcher spot, which moved sophomore Ella Schulte from starting pitcher to center field. The ‘Hounds finished the game with only one error.
DeMott was happy with the way Schulte performed out in center field.
“We sent Schulte out to center field tonight. She made four, if not five, phenomenal catches tonight out in center,” DeMott said.
With the first at-bat, the ‘Hounds got a runner on base with a single from Schulte.
They didn’t know it, but that was the last hit for the ‘Hounds, as Chillicothe junior pitcher Kinlei Boley went on to strike out eight straight batters before Schulte grounded out to the second baseman in the top of the third. Boley ended the game with 13 strikeouts.
DeMott was feeling good with the Spoofhounds’ offensive capabilities coming out of the weekend tournament, she said, but knew Boley was a dominant pitcher.
“Coming off this weekend, we were hitting pretty well, but Chillicothe’s pitcher is a tough pitcher,” DeMott said. “She has a great rise ball; it breaks pretty nicely. And she’s got some good speed to her, so we struggled a little bit to adjust to that.”
Chillicothe had control from the beginning of the game, jumping out to a 3-0 lead by the end of the first inning. The Hornets continued to dominate all game, tallying 14 hits with home runs from Boley and junior Hope Helton.
As the season ended, the ‘Hounds had a heartwarming goodbye with two seniors, Alonna Cross and Maggie Graham.
“It was emotional, as it always is. These girls spend a lot of time together, and our seniors have been very involved in everything in their years with the program. So it is always hard to see them go,” DeMott said. “I’m excited to see what the future holds for them, but I’m sad to see them go.”
Although the ‘Hounds will be losing two players, DeMott is intrigued with the rest of the team’s progression and what the future holds for them, she said, as the core is still young.
“I would say these girls have progressed pretty nicely,” DeMott said. “A lot of what we struggled with this season is not so much skill level but just that competitive edge and that mental aspect of the game. Overall, gaining that ability to process the mental side of the game has been big and just gaining experience.”