Some big home runs.
Some big wins.
Coincidence? Perhaps not. The St. Joseph-Ogden High School softball team has recovered from a slow start to the season, carrying a 24-10 record and a No. 3 seed into the start of the IHSA postseason.
Led by senior standout Shayne Immke, the Spartans will play fifth-seeded Sullivan at 6 p.m. Tuesday in a Class 2A regional semifinal game at Wyman Park in Sullivan.
Second-seeded Marshall and sixth-seeded Shelbyville will meet at 4:30 p.m. Tuesday in the first regional semifinal game in Sullivan, with the winners on Tuesday meeting at 4:30 p.m. Friday at Wyman Park for the regional championship game.
SJO will strive for its 37th regional championship this week, but first since 2019. And Immke will try to make some significant history, too. The senior has tied the IHSA single-season home run record with 24, set by Taylor Odom of Goreville in 2012 and then matched by Elaine Walker of Schaumburg in 2015. If Immke hits one more home run, she’ll have the IHSA record all to herself.
With all that in mind, here’s a roundup of the late-season surge by the Spartans that has got them to this point:
Spartans fall in regular-season finale
Immke hit her record-tying 24th home run of the season this past Thursday, but it wasn’t enough as the Spartans lost 9-7 at home to nonconference foe Charleston in SJO’s final regular-season game at Randy Wolken Field.
Immke finished 2 for 5 with two RBI and two runs scored. Junior Addison Frick (1 for 3, two RBI) and senior Kat Short (1 for 2) both hit home runs as well. Sophomore Madison Stevens took the loss, going three innings and giving up eight hits. She struck out two.
Spartans cruise by Vikings
Big innings and plenty of runs happened frequently for SJO during its 20-3 road nonconference win against Danville in Tilton on May 9.
Five Spartans had at least two hits, with Frick going 4 for 5 with two runs scored. Immke was 3 for 4 with two doubles, four runs scored and two RBI, while senior Peyton Jones was 3 for 5 with three RBI and three runs scored. Short (3 for 5, two RBI) and senior Alyssa Acton (2 for 4, four RBI) also joined in on the fun.
Stevens threw all five innings to register the win for SJO, scattering seven hits and striking out two.
SJO handles Tuscola
A strong pitching performance by freshman Timera Blackburn-Kelley was backed by a complementary offense, lifting SJO to a 12-1 home nonconference win against Tuscola on May 8 at Randy Wolken Field.
Blackburn-Kelley struck out two and only allowed four hits in throwing a complete game. Immke hit two home runs, her 22nd and 23rd of the season, to surpass SJO graduate Bailey Dowling’s single-season record of 22 she had set in both 2017 and 2019. Immke finished 3 for 5 with five RBI and three runs scored.
Junior Addy Martinie also hit a home run and went 2 for 3 with four RBI, while Acton hit a home run as well. Jones (2 for 3, two runs scored) and Frick (2 for 4) also contributed.
Spartans split pair at SJO Invite
The Spartans defeated Marshall 7-5 on May 6 as part of the SJO Invite at Randy Wolken Field, but couldn’t complete the sweep with a 9-3 loss to Pinckneyville in its second game of the day.
Blackburn-Kelley threw a complete game against Marshall, striking out 10 and overcoming nine hits by Marshall.
Immke shined, going 4 for 4 with a home run, two RBI and four runs scored. Jones went 3 for 4 with two RBI and Short added a two-run home run.
SJO only finished with four hits — one each by Immke, Acton, Short and sophomore Grace Osterbur — during its loss to Pinckneyville.
The Spartans completed a stellar all-around performance during a 10-3 home win against Unity at Randy Wolken Field on May 4. SJO capped Illini Prairie play with a 6-3 record in league games this spring.
Jones delivered the big hit for the Spartans, connecting on a grand slam that helped spark the win. She finished 2 for 4 with five RBI and scored two runs.
Junior Halle Brazelton added two RBI, while Blackburn-Kelley and Stevens teamed up to solidify the win from the pitcher’s circle.
Blackburn-Kelley toss four shutout innings, striking out two and giving up five hits. Stevens threw the final three innings, giving up six hits and three runs while striking out three.
Bunnies no problem for Spartans
Another big win featured plenty of home runs for SJO. Seven in total as the Spartans cruised to a 17-2 nonconference win at Fisher on May 3.
Immke went 3 for 4 with two home runs and four RBI, while freshman Emma McKinney was 3 for 3 with a home run and Martinie was 2 for 3 with a home run and four RBI. Frick, Acton and Short also hit home runs for the Spartans, while senior Morgan Cramer doubled for her first varsity hit.
Stevens threw a complete game, striking out nine.
Sages stun Spartans
The Spartans gave up five home runs to Monticello, including a walk-off grand slam by Marissa Miller, during a 13-10 road Illini Prairie loss to the Sages on May 1.
Immke hit a home run and went 2 for 4 with three runs scored, Jones was 3 for 5 with two runs scored, Brzelton hit a home run and finished with two RBI and senior Sofie Siemsen was 2 for 4.
SJO wins at Mahomet-Seymour
Immke and Martinie hit home runs, Stevens was superb in relief and the Spartans won 13-6 at nonconference foe Mahomet-Seymour on April 27.
Immke went 2 for 4, while Martinie was 2 for 5 with two RBI. Frick (3 for 4, three runs scored), Acton (2 for 3, two RBI) and Jones (2 for 4) all contributed offensively in the win.
Spartans shut out Champaign Central
SJO cruised to a 15-0 home nonconference win against Champaign Central at Randy Wolken Field on April 26.
Stevens threw a four-hit shutout, striking out two. Immke and Martinie both hit home runs, with Immke going 2 for 3 with three RBI and two runs scored and Martinie going 3 for 4 with two RBI and two runs scored.
Frick (2 for 3, two RBI) and Jones (2 for 4, four runs scored) also had big games for SJO.
SJO collects win in Indiana
The Spartans traveled out of state on April 25 and came home with a 12-7 nonconference win against South Vermillion (Ind.) in Clinton, Ind.
Acton and Blackburn-Kelley both pitched for SJO, with Acton throwing five innings and giving up six hits.
SJO hit five home runs in the win, with Immke hitting a home run and going 3 for 4 with four RBI and three runs scored. Jones went 3 for 4, while Frick was 2 for 4 with a home run. Acton, Martinie and Brazelton also hit home runs for the Spartans.
Spartans rout Maroa-Forsyth
SJO relied on solid pitching from Blackburn-Kelley and a dynamic offense to defeat Maroa-Forsyth 18-0 on April 24 in a nonconference home game at Randy Wolken Field.
Immke became SJO’s single-season record-holder and career record-holder in triples during the game with her 11th triple and 27th of her career. She also hit a home run and finished with three RBI to go along with four runs scored.
Blackburn-Kelley struck out four and only yielded three hits in throwing a complete game, while Jones went 3 for 3 with four RBI and two runs scored and Frick went 2 for 3 with two RBI and three runs scored.
SJO tops ALAH on road
Osterbur hit her first home run and Immke delivered two home runs during SJO’s 17-6 nonconference road win against Arthur-Lovington-Atwood-Hammond on April 22.
OSterbur finished 4 for 4 with two RBI and three runs scored, while Immke was 3 for 4 with four RBI. Acton also contributed, going 3 for 4 with a home run and three RBI, while Brazelton hit a home run as well. Jones, Short and Siemsen each added two hits, with Blackburn-Kelley striking out six to earn the win.
Spartans win close one at Pontiac
SJO proved it can win close, low-scoring games with a 3-2 Illini Prairie victory at Pontiac on April 20.
Blackburn-Kelley threw a complete game, striking out six and only yielding five hits. Frick paced the SJO offense by going 3 for 3 with two stolen bases and an RBI, while Acton and Martinie each drove in a run as well to propel the Spartans to the win.
SJO rolls by Mt. Zion
The Spartans delivered a 13-3 home nonconference win against Mt. Zion on April 19 at Randy Wolken Field.
Jones went 3 for 3 with two RBI and three runs scored, Immke had two hits, including a home run, and scored four runs and Brazelton came through with two hits, including a home run, and drove in four runs.
Acton and Osterbur each chipped in two hits, with Stevens throwing a complete game. She struck out struck and only allowed six hits.
Spartans easily defeat Mattoon
Four days after suffering an 8-1 loss at Mattoon, SJO returned the favor to the Green Wave with a 13-2 home win against the nonconference foe on April 18 at Randy Wolken Field.
A host of offensive contributors led the way for SJO as Frick was 3 for 3 with doubles, Jones was 3 for 4 with a double and three RBI, Martinie was 2 for 3 with a home run and three runs scored and Immke also hit a home run.
Blackburn-Kelley threw a complete game for the Spartans, only allowing four hits, to pick up the win.