Lady Pirates finish second in Lead-Off Classic, New Franklin eighth

Chris Bowie
Boonville Daily News
The Boonville Lady Pirates softball team finished second in the Lady Pirate Lead-Off Classic Saturday at Rolling Hills park in Boonville. The Lady Pirates fell in the championship game against Fayette 4-0 to finish the day at 2-1.
Boonville senior Olivia Eichelberger prepares to slide at home against Wright City in the semifinal round of the Lady Pirate Lead-Off Classic at Rolling Hills park.
New Franklin pitcher Brynn Belstle throws to first to record the out against Eugene in the consolation semifinals in the Lady Pirate Lead-Off Classic Saturday at Boonville High School.

The Boonville Lady Pirates and New Franklin Bulldogs entered the Boonville Lady Pirate Leadoff Classic on Saturday with high hopes heading into the 2021 season.

Although the Leadoff Classic is just a fraction of what the teams have instore for the next-two months, it gave both Boonville coach Christie Zoeller and New Franklin coach Ross Dowell something to gauge their teams on for the upcoming season.

As it turned out, Boonville wound up finishing second after a long hot day by losing in the championship game against Fayette 4-0. New Franklin, meanwhile, placed eighth after dropping a 6-1 decision against Moberly in the seventh-place game.

Zoeller said this was a great tournament for Boonville. “We played some really good softball even despite the heat of the day. “I think the most important take away from today is that we saw what things we need to work on,” Zoeller said. “This is what will guide our practices next week and help us as we get into more games. We always want to learn and grow for each experience and I think we can take a lot away from these games. I think we saw strong performances by our pitchers today, which is what we hoped to see early on in our season. The fact that we have some depth in this position is a great thing. Moving forward we know we must find a way to hit the ball and string hits together. If we can do this behind our strong pitching and defense, we should see a great deal of success this season.”

The pitching, hitting and defense showed throughout the day. After beating Moberly in the opener 9-2, Boonville came back to win by the same identical score in the semifinals against No. 3 Wright City. However, in the championship game, the Lady Pirates managed just one hit from Fayette pitcher Jordyn Ball in a 4-0 loss.

Of course, the Lady Pirates had no trouble putting up runs in the game against Moberly while scoring in all but two innings. Boonville opened the game with two runs and then sent one run across in the fourth and fifth and five again in the sixth.

Boonville also out-hit Moberly 13-5.

As for the pitching, junior Abby Pulliam picked up the win in the circle by giving up just two runs on five hits and one walk in 4 1/3 innings. She also struck out three batters. Freshman Lillian Newham then came in and pitched 1 2/3 innings in relief and allowed one walk while striking out three batters.

Freshman Cora Thompson went 3-for-4 in the game for Boonville with a single, double, triple and three RBIs. Pulliam also had three hits with a single, two doubles and two RBIs. Rachel Massa was 2-for-3 with a single, double and one RBI, while Newham had two singles and one RBI, and Olivia Eichelberger, Alison Eichelberger and Faith Mesik each with one single.

Chloe Ferguson led Moberly with one triple. Maddie Klostermann took the loss.

Zoeller said the girls came out in the first inning and hit the ball well. “I think this helped set the tone for the game,” Zoeller said. “We were aggressive at the plate and on the base paths and really did a great job getting our bunts down. Abby and Lillian also combined for a great game in the circle. I think these two bring very different styles to the circle and this really helps us throw our opponent off. This was just a well-played game and our aggressiveness on the base path really kept us in this game.”

In the game against Wright City, Boonville again jumped out on top by stay by exploding for five runs in the second. The Lady Pirates also added two runs in each of the fourth and fifth innings of play. Wright City, meanwhile, scored one run in the second and fifth.

Zoeller said this was another strong showing from the girls. “It took us about two innings at the plate to adjust to their pitcher but once we did, we did a nice job putting the ball in play and stringing hits together,” Zoeller said. “Our defense was also solid behind strong pitching.”

The one-two punch of Pulliam and Newham also played well again in the win over Wright City. Pulliam picked up her second win by limiting Wright City to just one run on five hits and one walk while striking out seven batters in four innings. Newham pitched two innings in relief and issued one run on one hit with one strikeout. Emma Thomas took the loss for Wright City.

Boonville also managed 12 hits in the game, with Pulliam going 2-for-4 with two singles and two RBIs. Emma West and Faith Mesik each had two singles and one RBI, while Olivia Eichelberger added two singles. Newham doubled and drove in two runs, while Jordyn Fuemmeler had one single and two RBIs, Rachel Massa one single and one RBI, and Josie Widel with one single.

For Wright City, Triston Head went 2-for-3 with a single, home run and one RBI. Lydia Clubb had two singles.

In the championship game, Boonville and Fayette were tied 0-0 after 4 ½ innings. However, in the bottom half of the fifth, Fayette scored three runs and then added one in the sixth to garner the victory as the No. 4 seed in the tournament.

Zoeller said the girls faced a very solid Fayette team in this game. “We saw very strong pitching and just couldn’t seem to adjust to it,” Zoeller said. “It is definitely hard to win a game when you are not able to score runs. I think we learned a lot in this game and will use it to prepare as we go into the three games this week.”

Ball picked up the win in the circle for Fayette, while Pulliam took the loss for Boonville. Both pitchers threw complete games. The only difference is that Ball gave up just one hit and two walks while striking out 13 batters, while Pulliam surrendered four runs on nine hits while striking out nine batters.

Fayette also out-hit Boonville 9-1, with Megan Lewis going 2-for-3 with a single, double and one RBI. Madi Lawson and Kaylea Felten also doubled in the game.

For Boonville, West went 1-for-3 with one double.

As for the New Franklin Lady Bulldogs, they had a little tougher time manufacturing runs while falling 9-0 in the opener against No. 1 Kirksville, 11-4 in the consolation semifinals against Eugene and 6-1 in the seventh-place game against Moberly.

“For the day we certainly got to see some good things but also several things we need to work on moving forward,” Dowell said. “We have to have more offensive production throughout the order and clean up a few things on defense.”

In the opening game against Kirksville, New Franklin managed just two hits while giving up 11 hits and a total of nine runs in the third, fourth and fifth innings.

Sophia Held took the loss for New Franklin by giving up nine runs on 11 hits and one walk while striking out three batters.

Carly Dorson had both team’s hits in the game, being singles.

As for the game against Eugene, Dowell said the girls started strong jumping out to an early lead but some defensive miscues and again too many strikeouts at the plate doomed them. “We also played back to back in the heat and I felt that we got hot and fatigued,” Dowell said.

New Franklin led Eugene 4-1 after 1 ½ but then surrendered one in the bottom half of the second, four again in the third, two in the fourth and three in the fifth to suffer the loss.

Freshman Brynn Belstle took the loss for New Franklin. In three innings, Belstle gave up six runs on four hits and two walks while striking out two batters. Held then came in and pitched 1 2/3 innings in relief and allowed five runs on four hits and one walk.

Eugene also out-hit New Franklin 8-3. Held had the only extra base hit in the ball game for New Franklin, being a double. Abby Maupin finished the game with one single and one RBI, while Belstle added one single.

In the final game against Moberly, the Lady Bulldogs again struggled to score runs while putting up just one run in the sixth. Moberly scored four in the second, one in the third and one in the fifth.

“Once again we pitched solid but struggled offensively,” Dowell said.

Held took the loss in the circle for New Franklin by giving up five runs on five hits and two walks while striking out one batter.

Moberly also out-hit New Franklin 5-1. Dorson had the only hit in the game for New Franklin with a double.