January 27, 2022 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

Dukeman leads Spartans to victory

Eight games. Eight wins so far for the St. Joseph-Ogden High School softball team.


The Spartans carry an 8-0 mark into Saturday’s 10 a.m. game at Tri-Valley after a trio of convincing nonconference home wins to start the week.
SJO delivered with a 9-0 victory against Maroa-Forsyth on Monday before following up with a 7-2 win against Villa Grove on Tuesday and then knocking off Lincoln 17-2 in four innings on Wednesday.


Four Spartans hit home runs during the win against Lincoln, with Hannah Dukeman, Katie Poulter, Lauren Trankina and Kaylee Ward all connecting. Dukeman led the way by going 3 for 4 with four RBI and four runs scored, while Poulter (3 for 3, two RBI), Trankina (2 for 3, two RBI), Ward (2 for 4, two RBI), Kennedy Hudson (2 for 4, two RBI), Savannah Smith (2 for 4, RBI) and Bailey Dowling (2 for 3) all had multiple hits.


SJO jumped out to a 2-0 lead after two innings after solo home runs from Dukeman in the first and Poulter in the second before Lincoln cut its deficit to 2-1 with a run in the top of the third before the Spartans turned a double play with the bases loaded to get out of the jam. SJO responded, though. In a big way with an 11-run third inning.


Dukeman drilled a two-run single to put SJO up 4-1 after Dowling and Audrey Short singled to start the inning. Ward then hit a two-run home run to give the Spartans a 6-1 lead, followed by RBI from Reagan Crippen on a fielder’s choice and Trankina on a single to go ahead 8-1.

Short and Dukeman then each drive in a run before two more runs score via a Lincoln error to give SJO a 12-1 lead. Hudson brought home the last run in the inning with a single to score Ward and put SJO out in front 13-1.
After Lincoln scored in the top of the fourth, the Spartans ended the game early in the fourth thanks to a home run from Trankina, RBI singles from Smith and Poulter and then a double by Hudson to give the Spartans the victory by mercy rule.


Ashtyn Cromwell pitched all four innings for SJO, giving up six hits and no earned runs while walking two and striking out two to record the win.


Poulter paced SJO against Villa Grove by going 2 for 2 with an RBI and a run scored to go along with a walk and a stolen base. Hudson (2 for 3, two RBI), Dukeman (2 for 3, RBI, two runs scored), Dowling (2 for 3, two runs scored) and Smith (two RBI) also came through for SJO.


SJO fell behind Villa Grove 1-0 before it came up to bat on Tuesday, but tied the game at 1 in the first on an RBI from Smith. SJO took a 2-1 lead in the second after Poulter doubled to lead off the inning and came around to score one batter later when Hudson lined an RBI single. Dukeman then powered SJO to a 4-1 lead in the third inning on a two-run home run before SJO added three runs in the fifth to take a commanding 7-1 lead.


Zoey Witruk threw a complete game for SJO, only yielding four hits and striking out 13 while giving up three walks and one unearned run.


Witruk shined in the Spartans’ win against Maroa-Forsyth in a rematch of last season’s Class 2A sectional championship that SJO won. The right-hander went six innings, allowing only one hit while striking out 13 and walking one. Cromwell threw an inning of relief, not allowing a hit and walking one while striking out one.


Dowling was a force at the plate, going 2 for 2 with two solo home runs and walking twice while scoring four runs. Dukeman (1 for 2, two RBI, two runs scored) also hit a home run while Ward (2 for 3, two RBI), Poulter (1 for 3, two RBI) and Hudson (1 for 3, RBI) also chipped in.


Dowling gave SJO a 1-0 lead in the first with a one-out home run over center field before Dukeman drilled a two-run home run two innings later to put the Spartans up 3-0.


Ward’s two-run single in the fifth, followed by Poulter’s two-run triple and Hudson’s RBI double, allowed the Spartans to hold a convincing 8-0 lead after five innings before Dowling capped the scoring with her second home run of the game in the bottom of the sixth to account for the 9-0 win.


After Saturday’s game at Tri-Valley, the Spartans are slated to host Rantoul at 4:30 p.m. next Monday in an Illini Prairie Conference game. The Spartans’ scheduled game at St. Thomas More on Thursday was postponed because of rain and is rescheduled for 4:30 p.m. on April 24.

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