October 28, 2021 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

SJO softball rallies to win season opener

The spring sports season is a little more than a week old for St. Joseph-Ogden High School. Here’s how the Spartans have fared:

In baseball
The Spartans have opened the season with a 3-2 record.

SJO won its season opener, defeating Villa Grove/Heritage 10-0 in five innings at home on March 11 before following up with a 23-0 win in four innings at home against Armstrong-Potomac last Thursday.

SJO hit the road for two games in the metro St. Louis area this past weekend at the PBR Kickoff Classic. SJO suffered a 4-0 loss last Friday at Belleville West before defeating Harrisburg 4-2 in eight innings last Saturday at O’Fallon.

On Monday, SJO went on the road and lost 11-5 at Tuscola in another nonconference game.

Kaden Jacobs and Sam Wesley thrived for SJO against Villa Grove/Heritage.

Jacobs went 2 for 4 with three RBI, while Wesley went 2 for 3 with two RBI.

Adam Frerichs (2 for 4, two runs scored) and Blake Primmer (1 for 1, three runs scored, two walks) also chipped in significantly at the plate as SJO broke open a 7-0 lead after two innings.

On the mound, Adam Rose and Keegan McCarty combined on a two-hit shutout. Rose struck out four in two innings, allowing one hit, while McCarty fanned six in three innings, also only allowing one hit.

SJO scored early and often in its win against Armstrong-Potomac, plating 18 runs in the second inning to pull ahead 23-0 after only two frames.

Crayton Burnett went 2 for 2 with two doubles and two RBI to lead SJO’s offense, while Rose (2 for 2, three runs scored, three RBI), Drew Coursey (3 for 4, four RBI), McCarty (1 for 2, three runs scored, two RBI), Jaden Miller (1 for 2, three RBI), Wesley (1 for 1, three runs scored, RBI) and Frerichs (three runs scored, two RBI) also got in on the fun.

Joe Acton and Robert Gebbink combined on a one-hit shutout. Acton threw three innings, allowing the one hit, and struck out five. Gebbink struck out the side in his only inning of relief.

The Spartans only managed two hits against Belleville West and fell behind 1-0 after one inning before the host Maroons tacked on single runs in the third, fifth and sixth innings. Wesley (1 for 3) and Frerichs (1 for 4) accounted for the lone hits by SJO.

Burnett started and picked up the loss, throwing three innings and giving up three hits, two runs (one earned). He struck out three and walked two. Caleb Johnson (2/3 innings, one hit) and Zach Martini (2 1/3 innings, three hits, one earned run, two walks and two strikeouts) also threw in relief.

The Spartans responded the next day with a late rally to grab an extra-inning victory. Trailing 2-1 in the top of the seventh, Primmer hit a sacrifice fly to tie the game at 2. McCarty kept Harrisburg off the scoreboard in the bottom of the seventh, setting the stage for Coursey to deliver some heroics. Coursey’s two-run single in the top of the eighth put SJO ahead 4-2, with McCarty slamming the door in the bottom of the eighth.

Along with Coursey (1 for 3), Jacobs (2 for 4), Burnett (2 for 4) and Nick Boggs (2 for 2) paced the offense for SJO.

Rose started for SJO, throwing four innings and allowing five hits and two runs while striking out two.

McCarty was near perfect in relief, throwing four no-hit innings and striking out four while yielding only one walk.
In the loss against Tuscola, SJO scored two runs in the top of the first to take a 2-0 lead before the host Warriors responded with two runs of their own in the bottom of the first. The score remained that way until Tuscola broke it open with seven runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a convincing 9-2 lead. Tuscola expanded its lead to 11-2 in the sixth before the Spartans pushed across three runs in the seventh.

Blake Dable hit a two-home run for SJO, while Burnett and Rose each went 2 for 4 with an RBI to lead SJO’s offense. Johnson suffered the loss, giving up six hits and five runs in four innings. He struck out two.

SJO is slated to play at Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday before hosting Urbana at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday. The Spartans are then set to go back on the road for a 4:30 p.m. nonconference game on Friday at Morton.

In softball
SJO has started off the season with two wins in its first two games.

The Spartans managed to put the ball in play enough late and come away with a 4-2 win in eight innings against Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley on Monday in SJO’s season opener.

The win was also the first for new SJO coach Larry Sparks.

A day later on Tuesday, the Spartans went on the road and defeated Westville 15-4.

Originally scheduled to take place in Gibson City, the Monday nonconference game against the Falcons was moved to St. Joseph because of field conditions in Gibson City.

The Spartans were still the visiting team, though, and broke a 2-2 tie in the top of the eighth inning with two runs.

Kaylee Ward drove in Hannah Dukeman on an RBI groundout to give the Spartans a 3-2 lead. Dukeman singled with one out before stealing second and advancing to third on an error before Ward’s at-bat. Savannah Smith walked with two outs and came around to score after two errors by GCMS.

Dukeman led the offense by going 2 for 4 with an RBI, while Bailey Dowling (1 for 3) and Smith (1 for 3) contributed the other hits for the Spartans. GCMS pitcher Madison Eberle, a Southern Illinois commit, struck out 19.

Zoey Witruk and Ashtyn Cromwell both pitched for SJO. Witruk started and went three innings, giving up one run but no hits while striking out four and walking three. Cromwell threw the final five innings, allowing five hits and one run while striking out three and walking two.

The offense woke up against Westville, with Dukeman leading the way.

SJO’s junior catcher hit a home run and went 2 for 5 with six RBI as she was one of four Spartans to hit a home run on the afternoon. Witruk (3 for 4, three RBI), Smith (2 for 5, two RBI) and Katie Poulter (2 for 5, three runs scored, RBI) also hit home runs, helping SJO overcome a 4-1 deficit after four innings. SJO took a 7-4 lead with six runs in the top of the fifth and added four runs apiece in each of the next two innings. Dowling (3 for 5, three runs scored, RBI), Ward (2 for 5, RBI) and Kennedy Hudson (1 for 4, two runs scored) also helped out the offensive barrage. Hannah Lewis and Cromwell each pitched an inning, with Witruk picking up the win. She threw five dominant innings, allowing no hits and striking out 11.

The Spartans (2-0) are slated to host Normal West at 5 p.m. on Thursday in their next nonconference game. SJO then hits the road for an Illini Prairie Conference game at noon on Saturday at Chillicothe Illinois Valley Central.

In track and field
While the start of the outdoor season is still a few weeks away, the Spartans have stayed busy indoors.

The SJO boys’ team competed this past Saturday at the Charleston Indoor Invitational, held on the campus of Eastern Illinois University, while the SJO girls’ team took part in the Charleston Indoor Invitational on March 9.

The SJO boys placed fourth in the Class A meet out of 34 teams by compiling 36 points. Pleasant Plains won the meet with 45 points, followed by Salt Fork (43) and Carlinville (40).

SJO shined in the relays, with the 800-meter relay team placing first in 1 minutes, 35.93 seconds. The Spartans also received points in the 1,600 relay by placing third in 3:42.25.

Individually, Aiden Meyer led SJO with a second-place finish in the 60-meter dash by clocking in at 7.26 seconds. Isiah McCune added a fourth-place finish in the 3,200 in 10:25.14, while Brady Buss finished fifth in the 400 with a time of 54.35.

On the girls’ side, SJO finished second in the 34-team Class A meet held at EIU on March 9. The Spartans shined in the distance races and the relays, with the 1,600-meter relay team placing first in 4 minutes, 19.37 seconds. The 800 relay added a third-place finish (1:52.62) and the 3,200 relay finished fourth (10:52.37).

Jillian Plotner and Hannah Rajlich each had the best individual finish for SJO, with Plotner taking third in the 800 (2:27.62) and Rajlich placing third in the 1,600 (5:33.63). Cassidy Bagby also chipped in with a fourth-place finish in the 1,600 (5:37.66).

Both SJO track and field teams are set to get back in action this Friday at the Illinois Prep Top Times Meet, slated to begin at 2 p.m. at the Shirk Center on the campus of Illinois Wesleyan University in Bloomington.

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