December 6, 2021 Local Stories in and Around St. Joseph, Illinois

Dowing ties state home run record as SJO softball wins third straight game


Bailey Dowling is one home run away from cementing her name atop a state record.


Add on the fact the St. Joseph-Ogden High School softball team is playing well with the postseason right around the corner, and the Spartans have had a good week.


Dowling hit her 60th career home run during Thursday’s 16-1 home win in four innings against Champaign Central, with the SJO junior tying Stephanie Abello’s record of 60 that she set from 2012-15 at Benet Academy in Lise.


The win on Thursday came after a solid 7-2 win at Olympia on Tuesday in Illini Prairie Conference play and after SJO started the week with a 13-1 home win in five innings against Illini Prairie foe Monticello.


SJO (18-7, 6-3 Illini Prairie) heads to Alexis this weekend for a day-long tournament at the Alexis Fieldhouse on a three-game win streak, with the Spartans opening the eight-team tournament at 8 a.m. on Saturday against Monmouth United.


Dowling launched a solo home run to center field to lead off the second inning for her record-tying blast, giving SJO a 7-1 lead against Champaign Central with one swing. Dowling wound up 2 for 2 with two RBI and reached base in all four plate appearances, but she was far from the only offensive standout SJO had on Thursday.


Hannah Dukeman (2 for 2, RBI, four runs scored), Kaylee Ward (2 for 3, three RBI), Savannah Smith (2 for 3, RBI), Katie Poulter (1 for 2, two RBI) and Audrey Short (1 for 3, two RBI) all contributed at key junctures. Ashtyn Cromwell picked up the win, throwing all four innings and scattering four hits an unearned run while striking out two.


SJO loaded the bases in the first inning with one out and quickly took advantage. Smith put the ball in play and reached on a Central error, allowing Dowling to score and put SJO ahead 1-0. Poulter then lined a double, scoring Poulter and Ward to give SJO a 3-0 lead.


Lauren Trankina was hit by a pitch to load the bases once again and Smith scored on a wild pitch. A sacrifice bunt by Jaycee Lewis then brought in Poulter, staking the Spartans to a 5-0 lead. An RBI single by Short capped the scoring in the first.


Following Dowling’s home run in the second, Dukeman doubled and advanced to third with one out on a single by Smith. With two outs, Trankina put the ball in play, resulting in a Central error that allowed Dukeman and Smith to score, increasing SJO’s lead to 9-1.


The Spartans loaded the bases with one out in the third inning after Raegan Crippen reached on an error, Dowling was hit by a pitch and Dukeman walked. This set the stage for a two-run single by Ward and an RBI single by Smith to put SJO up 12-1. The Spartans then ended the game in the fourth with a four-run inning. Pinch-runner Kelsey Martlidge scored on an RBI groundout by Short to make it 13-1 and then after Crippen singled, Dowling’s double brought home Crippen to make it 14-1.

Consecutive doubles by Dukeman and Ward pushed across two more runs, ending the game after four innings with a 16-1 victory.


Zoey Witruk and Smith each supplied superb performances to help SJO earn its win against Olympia.


Witruk threw a complete game, striking out 13 and scattering four hits. Smith came through by going 2 for 4 with four RBI, capitalizing on Olympia electing not to pitch often to Dowling and Dukeman, who combined for eight walks. Trankina also went 2 for 4, while Dowling scored three runs and hit a solo home run and Dukeman added a double.


Dowling put SJO out in front 1-0 with her home run in the top of the first inning. The score remained that way until the top of the third. With one out, Dowling and Dukeman walked before Ward hit into a fielder’s choice. But Smith came through with a two-run double, giving SJO a 3-0 lead.


In the top of the fifth, still nursing a 3-0 lead, Dowling and Dukeman walked to lead off the inning. With one out, Smith hit a two-run single to increase SJO’s lead to 5-0.


Olympia trimmed its deficit to 5-2 with two runs in the bottom of the fifth and after SJO failed to score any runs after loading the bases with one out in the sixth, SJO pushed across two insurance runs in the top of the seventh.

Poulter did her part with a solo home run to lead off the inning, pushing SJO’s lead to 6-2. Claire Huffman singled with one out and after a sacrifice bunt by Lewis, Crippen reached on an error and Dowling walked to load the bases before Dukeman also walked, allowing Huffman to score and put SJO ahead 7-2 before Witruk retired Olympia in order in the bottom of the seventh.


Dowling and Dukeman each went 3 for 3 against Monticello, with Dowling scoring four runs and Dukeman crossing home plate three times. Ward and Smith made sure to deliver timely hits, each going 2 for 3 with four RBI, while Poulter went 1 for 2 with two RBI.


Cromwell recorded the win, throwing all five innings and scattering seven hits. She walked two and struck out three.


SJO put the pressure on Monticello from the get-go, with a double by Dowling, a single by Dukeman and a walk to Ward loading the bases with one out. Smith took advantage of the opportunity with a two-run single to center field, giving the Spartans an early 2-0 lead.


SJO made it 4-0 in the bottom of the third after back-to-back single by Dowling and Dukeman brought up Ward, who drove in Dowling with an RBI single. Trankina’s ability to put the ball in play resulted in a Monticello error with two outs, allowing Ward to score.


Leading 4-0 in the fourth inning, Crippen walked, Dowling reached on an error and Dukeman singled to load the bases. Crippen scored on a wild pitch before Smith hit another two-run single to give SJO a 7-0 lead. Poulter then delivered a two-run home run, putting the Spartans up 9-0.


Even after Monticello scored its lone run in the top of the fifth, SJO closed out the game with a four-run inning in its half of the fifth. Short walked with one out, Dowling walked and Short scored after two wild pitches by Monticello. Dukeman then walked before Ward ended the win with a three-run home over the center field fence.


After Saturday’s tournament in Alexis, SJO is slated to close the regular season at 4:30 p.m. at home on Monday against Charleston before beginning Class 2A postseason play. The Spartans will face either Monticello or Warrensburg-Latham at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday at Forsyth Village Park in a regional semifinal game.

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