MEXICO ROUNDUP: Softball loses to rival Fulton, soccer shut out by Kirksville, girls tennis defeats Moberly, volleyball swept

By Jeremy Jacob, Sports Editor
Posted 9/16/23

Mexico boys out of position in 4-0 loss to Kirksville

The Mexico boys prepared to play three games Friday and Saturday in the Moberly Invitational but wrapped up a demanding stretch on Tuesday …

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MEXICO ROUNDUP: Softball loses to rival Fulton, soccer shut out by Kirksville, girls tennis defeats Moberly, volleyball swept


Mexico softball loses 14-2 after deluge of Fulton hits

Mexico knew Thursday’s task wouldn’t be any easier while it was in the midst of a tough week.

Mexico vs Fulton Photo Gallery

Starting on Saturday, the Lady Bulldogs played nothing but district opponents and ended up losing all four games following a 14-2 five-inning defeat to Class 3 No. 2 Fulton. Mexico (6-8, 3-1 NCMC) couldn’t overcome 16 hits, including nine straight to begin an eight-run third inning, by its Highway 54 and North Central Missouri Conference rival.

Mexico’s current losing streak began with a late-inning loss to Hallsville on Saturday, who is tied for the second rank with Fulton (9-2, 3-1 NCMC) in Class 3, and then the Lady Bulldogs had to play three district foes with winning records in three days. Head coach Hanna Branch admitted the girls were tired and had been nursing injury and sickness issues but had to keep pushing forward against Fulton, even after trailing 12-2 after the fourth inning..

“They did a really good job of staying in mentally,” Branch said. “It’s really hard to come back from that big of a run deficit. They still were working hard.”

Mexico did have some positive injury news as freshman Keerstan Ewing started the game in the circle. Branch said Ewing has been unavailable because of a leg issue since the Bowling Green game at the end of August. The plan was to have Ewing go partially through the game and then have Emma Cunningham follow, but that plan had to be enacted sooner with no outs in the third inning after Fulton recorded three of its seven extra-base hits in the frame, including a three-RBI home run by Jayna Hedgpath. 

Ewing started the game well with two shutout innings as Mexico scored the first run on an infield error in the second inning. She was inducing weak contact and then more balls dropped in the outfield and found holes in the infield.

“My thought process was to start Keerstan and then put Emma in hoping to throw them off-balance a little bit,” Branch said. “I was trying to give Keerstan more time and then that home run did us in a little bit. She does great as she knows her role is to help us get some groundballs and flyballs and let our defense work. We also made some physical mistakes in the field that hurt us.”

Brooke Teel finished with two hits against Natalie Underwood, who had eight strikeouts, five walks, four hits and two unearned runs in five innings. Hannah Loyd went 1-for-2 with a walk, and Maddy Feger reached base twice via walks. Still, it was difficult for Mexico to lay off Underwood’s sharp stuff.

“I felt like we had good at-bats, and we took good approaches at the plate,” Branch said. “Usually, with a pitcher like that, we want to attack early. She was all over the place at the beginning of the game and then she reeled it in a little bit. As soon as she has two strikes on you, she uses the offspeed and it’s really hard to foul that off when you know that it’s close. You don’t want to leave it in the umpire’s hands. The hardest thing to hit in softball is in a changeup, especially when it looks that good.”

Mexico plays at Webster Groves (8-6) at 10 a.m. today before facing conference foe Marshall (1-8, 0-2 NCMC) again at 5 p.m. Monday in Marshall. The biggest thing after losing to Hallsville, Centralia, Macon and Fulton, Branch said, is for Mexico to use this time to rest.

“We just need some time to refocus and rest,” Branch said. “Our pitchers are working our tails off because I’ve used every single one of them. I’m looking forward to having some practices next week where we can reevaluate and go over some fundamentals and regroup.”

Mexico boys soccer out of position in 4-0 loss to Kirksville

The Mexico boys prepared to play three games Friday and Saturday in the Moberly Invitational but wrapped up a demanding stretch on Tuesday night.

Mexico vs Kirksville Photo Gallery

The Bulldogs lost 4-0 to North Central Missouri Conference foe Kirksville at home in what was their fifth game in eight days. The result was Mexico’s third straight shutout at the feet of the Tigers and its fourth conference loss this season.

Head coach Bill Gleeson said Kirksville (2-2, 2-2 NCMC) took a 2-0 halftime lead, starting with its first goal midway through the first half, as it was able to take advantage of Mexico’s mistakes.

“We were not in our positions and were getting too spread out and letting them get those balls in,” Gleeson said. “We were getting up too high, so when they would switch fields, they had a wide open back. We’re tired. We didn’t play badly, but all of our passes were either just a little bit too hard, a little bit too soft or just a little bit off angle.”

Legs mean a lot in soccer so the Bulldogs (3-4, 0-4 NCMC) not having the freshest legs didn’t help against yet another tough conference opponent. Mexico has lost by a margin of 18-4 to Marshall, Fulton and Moberly, who each have winning records so far this season.

Kirksville moved to a 500 record after playing its fourth conference opponent in Mexico and has been able to control the Bulldogs’ offense. In the second half, Mexico had four close calls, including penalty shots from Brendan McKeown and Bryce Carter that were off-target, but the Tigers brought a key component back to their defense.

“Their centerback is really good and can read the field well,” Gleeson said. “We weren’t utilizing our wings to spread it out to make him commit to one side or the other to capitalize on that. We were going down the middle, and that’s what they want us to do because that is where their strength is.”

Gleeson said the Bulldogs will be ready to give it their all in the Moberly Invitational on Friday and Saturday. Mexico is in the red division — out of the three red, blue and white — and faces Boonville at 6 p.m. Friday on Moberly’s turf field, Smith-Cotton B at 2 p.m. Saturday at Central Christian College of the Bible, and Moberly B at 4 p.m. Saturday on Moberly’s grass field.

Lady Bulldogs defeat conference rival Moberly 6-3

Mexico girls tennis head coach  Kim Costley admitted the girls have tired legs at this point of the season but had more than enough to win a conference matchup on Thursday.

The Lady Bulldogs defeated North Central Missouri Conference rival Moberly (0-8, 0-5 NCMC) 6-3 at home, taking four of the six singles matches.

Katie Gooch won 10-0, Jyllian Whitworth won 10-2, Alice Eggen won 10-3 and Daida Herrera-Garcia won 10-2. Lucy Gleeson and Lani Blair were close to winning their matches, losing 11-9.

Gooch and Whitworth won in doubles 10-1, and Eggen and Gleeson won 10-3. Blair and Claire Hudson had a close loss of 10-7.

Mexico junior varsity won six of its seven matches.

Mexico (7-8, 3-1 NCMC) plays in a School of the Osage tournament today before playing at 4 p.m. Monday at Fulton (2-4, 1-1 NCMC) in its final conference dual.

Blair, Gooch, Whitworth win matches in Mexico's 5-4 loss to Palmyra

The Mexico girls will be looking to flip the result the next time they meet Palmyra (4-2).

The Lady Bulldogs lost 5-4 to their district foe on Tuesday in Mexico. Lani Blair, Katie Gooch and Jyllian Whitworth won their singles matches, with some being tight contests.

Blair won 8-3 and won doubles 8-6 with Claire Hudson.

"Lani Blair has been a solid competitor all year," head coach Kim Costley said. "We'll most likely see them again and we'll need to find a way to flip the score on a couple of matches."

Gooch won singles 9-8 (7-2) but fell short in doubles with Whitworth 8-6. Whitworth won singles 8-4.

Mexico girls tennis goes 1-2 at first Troy tournament

For their first appearance, the Mexico girls were solid.

The Lady Bulldogs competed in the Troy Varsity Tennis Tournament on Saturday for the first time and went 1-2. They lost 5-2 to Holt and Ft. Zumwalt West and defeated Troy Buchanan 5-2.

Jyllian Whitworth finished 2-0 in singles matches, defeating her Ft. Zumwalt West opponent 7-5 and Troy Buchanan foe 6-3 while also winning doubles with Katie Gooch 6-3 against Holt and 6-4 against Troy Buchanan. Head coach Kim Costley said Whitworth was pushed out of her comfort zone and so were the rest of the Lady Bulldogs.

“There were all new teams we've never played and the competition was good,” Costley said. “We are a Class 1 tennis school and all of the teams in the tournament were Class 2 and 3.”

Others to win matches were Lucy Gleeson and Lani Blair in doubles 6-1 against Holt, Alice Eggen in singles 6-4 against Ft. Zumwalt West, Blair in singles 6-1 against Troy Buchanan, Eggen in singles 6-3 against Troy Buchanan, and Eggen and Daida Herrera-Garcia in doubles 7-5 against Troy Buchanan.

Mexico volleyball swept by Hannibal

Mexico volleyball lost to a tough North Central Missouri Conference team on Thursday.

The Lady Bulldogs were swept in Hannibal (5-1, 2-0 NCMC), losing 25-13, 25-4 and 25-16. They fall to 1-5 and 1-3 in conference, with its lone victory being a 3-1 win at conference foe Marshall.

Mexico plays in the New Haven Round Robin today.