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

Relays shine for SJO track and field

A St. Joseph-Ogden High School girls’ track and field relay team won a title at a prestigious indoor meet, the SJO softball team is still undefeated and the SJO baseball team nearly threw a no-hitter. Here’s more from a busy past few days of high school athletics for the Spartans:

In track and field
The start of the outdoor season is less than a week away for the St. Joseph-Ogden High School girls’ team.

The boys’ team, meanwhile, will start in a little more than a week.

But before both program shift their focus to the outdoors, the Spartans fared well this past Friday at the Class 1A Illinois Top Times Meet, essentially the indoor state meet.

On the girls’ side, the 3,200-meter relay placed first while competing at the Shirk Center on the campus of Illinois Wesleyan University, touring the track in 9 minutes, 59.76 seconds. That was more than 2 seconds faster than runner-up Pleasant Plains (10:02.23).

The 800 relay added a fourth-place finish in 1:51.15 and the 1,600 relay fared well with a fifth-place finish in 4:18.72.

Four individuals for SJO also finished in the top nine of their respective events. Atleigh Hamilton claimed fourth place in the long jump with a leap of 16 feet 11 1/2 inches, while Maclayne Taylor took sixth in the 60-meter dash with a time of 8.08 seconds. Two Spartans placed in the 1,600, with Jillian Plotner finishing eighth in 5:32.12 and Cassidy Bagby right behind her with a ninth-place finish in 5:33.01.

The girls’ team will compete next at 11 a.m. on Saturday at the Champaign County Meet, which will take place at Urbana High School.

On the boys’ front, two relays placed at the Illinois Top Times Meet as did two individuals.

The 800 relay had the best showing, taking second place in 1:35.86, just behind champion Morrison (1:34.43).

The 1,600 relay took ninth in 3:42.76, while Lane Gaskin finished fifth in the 200 (23.51) and Nolan Peacock took 15th in the pole vault (12 feet).

The boys’ team is slated to begin the outdoor season at home on April 2 when the Spartans host Danville, Monticello, Rantoul and Urbana in a five-team meet set to begin at 4:30 p.m.

In softball
The St. Joseph-Ogden High School softball team completed the first week of its season with a perfect record intact.

New coach Larry Sparks guided SJO to a 4-0 win this past Saturday at Chillicothe Illinois Valley Central, which came after an 8-6 home win against Normal West last Thursday.

Zoey Witruk threw a five-hit shutout against Illinois Valley Central to stifle the Grey Ghosts. Witruk struck out nine and only walked two in keeping Illinois Valley Central off the scoreboard.

SJO took a 1-0 lead after the first inning after leadoff hitter Audrey Short was hit by a pitch to start the game and advanced to second base on a wild pitch before Bailey Dowling drew a walk, the first of five on the day for the Alabama commit. Hannah Dukeman then delivered an RBI single to give the Spartans an early 1-0 lead.

The score remained that way until the fifth inning. Katie Poulter drew a leadoff walk, stole second base with one out and advanced to third on an infield single by Witruk. With two outs, Sophie Martlage put the ball in play, singling to left field and plating Poulter to put SJO up 2-0.

The Spartans capped their scoring in the seventh with two runs as a leadoff single by Kennedy Hudson started the offensive output. With one out, Dowling walked and Dukeman followed with a bunt single to load the bases.

Kaylee Ward then came through with a two-run single to right field, scoring Hudson and Dowling to give SJO a 4-0 lead.

The Spartans’ offense managed seven hits and 13 walks, but left 16 runners on base. Ward went 1 for 2 with two RBI and three walks to pace SJO, while Dukeman (2 for 5, RBI) and Martlage (1 for 1, RBI, two walks) also chipped in.

SJO faced early deficits against Normal West, but rallied to pull off a nonconference win against a Class 4A school.

Normal West took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first before Dukeman hit a two-run home run and Ward added a solo home run to put SJO ahead 3-1 after one inning.

Normal West took a 5-3 lead with five runs in the top of the third, but SJO responded again.

Short singled to lead off the bottom of the third and Dowling tied the game with a two-run home run, her first home run of the season and 44th of her career. Dukeman kept the rally going with a single and came around to score on a double by Savannah Smith to give SJO a 6-5 lead. Two errors by Normal West later in the inning allowed Poulter and Reagan Crippen to come around and score, increasing SJO’s lead to 8-5.

That was all the offense SJO’s pitching needed. Ashtyn Cromwell started and picked up the win, throwing 3 1/3 innings, allowing six hits and six runs. Witruk earned the save with 3 2/3 innings of relief, allowing one hit and striking out five while walking four.

SJO (4-0) will look to keep its solid start to the season going this week when the Spartans are slated to host Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday before taking part in the Rantoul tournament this Saturday.

In baseball
The St. Joseph-Ogden High School baseball team split a pair of low-scoring games to end last week.

After last Wednesday’s game at Bismarck-Henning/Rossville-Alvin was postponed because of inclement weather, SJO won 2-0 against Urbana last Thursday at home before falling 2-0 at Morton last Friday.

Crayton Burnett starred for the Spartans in the win against Urbana, throwing six shutout innings of no-hit ball to pick up the win. Burnett struck out 12 and only allowed one walk before yielding to Adam Rose for the seventh inning. Rose did give up a hit with one out to spoil the chance at a no-hitter, but struck out the side in earning the save.

SJO pushed across both of its run in the bottom of the sixth inning after both teams couldn’t dent the scoreboard through the first five innings.

Rose started the late-inning rally by SJO with a leadoff single and stole second base before he was forced out on a ground ball hit by Adam Frerichs. But Frerichs was safe at first and advanced all the way to third on an error by Urbana.

After Kaden Jacobs was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and third with one out, Burnett singled to right field to drive home Frerichs and give SJO a 1-0 lead.

With courtesy runner Joe Acton running for Jacobs, Nick Boggs singled with two outs to score Acton and put the Spartans ahead 2-0.

Rose (1 for 3,) Burnett (1 for 3, RBI) and Boggs (2 for 3, RBI) accounted for all of SJO’s hits.

SJO couldn’t muster much offense the next day at Morton in a loss to the defending Class 3A state champions.

The Spartans only managed one hit — a sixth-inning single with one out by Drew Coursey — in the loss to the Potters. SJO fell behind 2-0 after the first inning and the score remained that way the rest of the game.

Keegan McCarty was tagged with the loss for the Spartans, throwing four innings and giving up five hits and two runs. He struck out two and walked one. Zach Martini threw two shutout innings of relief, allowing one hit while striking out two and walking one.

SJO (4-3) is set to play at Salt Fork on Monday before hosting Centennial at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday. The Spartans are then slated to host Westville at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday before traveling to Teutopolis on Saturday for two games. SJO and Teutopolis are scheduled to play at 10 a.m. on Saturday before the Spartans then take on Stillman Valley at noon.

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