2020 St. Joseph-Ogden baseball season in question

Zach Martini reaches back to unload a pitch in the Spartans' home game against Centennial. SJO narrowly lost the non-conference game against the Big 12 foe on March 27 last year, 2-1. It remains to be seen if Martini and the Spartans will take the field this season due to the growing threat of the Coronavirus and governmental shutdown schools and group events across the country. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

With an impressive line-up of 11 talented seniors, the St. Joseph-Ogden baseball team is stacked to win its eighth consecutive regional title this season and is a very strong challenger for one of four slots in the Class 2A state finals in June.

In the past four seasons under head coach Josh Haley, the Spartans have amassed an impressive 110 wins against 36 losses. SJO finished the 2019 season with a record of 27-9.

Unfortunately the St. Joseph-Ogden team and other baseball teams around the nation, the call to "play ball" may not be heard at least at the high school level this Spring due to the spread of the Coronavirus.

On Friday governor J.B. Pritzker closed all Illinois public and private schools for nearly a two-week period to prevent the spread of the COVID-19, the official name for the flu-like virus. As of today the number of confirmed cases in the state rose from 42 yesterday to 64 out of the mere 708 residents who have been tested so far. Another 200 cases are currently under investigation by the Illinois Department of Public Health.

The earliest SJO will be able to practice or play at this point will be on April 6 and that is no guarantee. The pandemic strain threatening US citizens could extend the current postponement or cancel the season altogether if the IHSA follows suit and annonce the spring sport season over before it even started as the NCAA did last week.

In a statement on Thursday evening after canceling the winter season hours before the tipoff of the first boys semifinal basketball game for Class 1A on Friday, Executive Director Craig Anderson said no decision had been made on taking similar action.

"It is too early to make any decisions regarding IHSA spring state final tournaments," said Anderson. "We respect the NCAA’s decision to cancel its spring championships, but also recognize that the exposure and travel by our high school teams is not as expansive as collegiate teams. At this juncture, we recommend that all IHSA spring sport teams consult their local health departments, and follow their recommendations on if and how to proceed with practices and regular-season contests."

With no organized practice allowed by school districts until then, the likely first contest for SJO will be sometime around April 11. Optimistically, teams across Illinois can resume practice starting sometime between March 30 and April 6.

The Spartans have five litmus games on the schedule. Three of them may not be rescheduled unfortunately. Their doubleheader on March 19 with the opener against Oswego at 1p and then taking the field against Carbondale hours later would have been two solid early season tests for the SJO pitching corp.

The other game on the schedule to look forward was the away contest at Morton High School against Joliet Catholic on March 27. In their last meeting back in March of 2018, the Hilltoppers, who went on to become Class 3A sectional finalists, defeated the Spartans, 11-3.

If the season is allowed to continue, one of three games not to miss would be the Spartans' road game on the newly remodeled turf diamond at Unity on April 20. The other two can't miss 'em are home games. The first on April 4 against last year's Class 2A state champions Tuetopolis. The second, another non-conference matchup, is against Gibson City-Melvin-Sibley on April 28.

2020 St. Joseph-Ogden Baseball Schedule

Date Opponent Home
16 March Heritage High School H 4:30
17 March Armstrong-Potomac High School-@ Potomac A 4:30
19 March Oswego High School @ Edwardsville A 1:00
19 March Carbondale High School @ Edwardsville A 4:45
24 March Tuscola High School H 4:30
25 March Bismarck-Henning-Rossville-Alvin High School H 4:30
26 March Urbana High School A 4:30
27 March Joliet Catholic @ Morton High School A 7:00
30 March Salt Fork High School H 4:30
1 April Champaign Centennial High School A 4:30
2 April Westville High School A 4:30
4 April Teutopolis High School (DH) H 10:00 AM
6 April Mahomet-Seymour High School A 5:00
7 April St. Thomas More High School H 4:30
8 April Heritage High School @ Broadlands A 4:30
11 April Williamsville/Tremont High School @ Millikin (DH) A 12:00
13 April Rantoul High School A 4:30
16 April Bloomington Central Catholic High School H 4:30
17 April PBL High School A 4:30
20 April Unity High School A 4:30
21 April Oakwood High School A 4:30
23 April Pontiac High School H 4:30
25 April Illinois Valley Central High School (DH) H 11:00 AM
27 April Prairie Central High School A 4:30
28 April GCMS High School H 4:30
30 April Charleston High School A 4:30
1 May Maroa-Forsyth High School A 4:30
4 May Olympia High School H 4:30
5 May Fisher High School A 4:30
7 May Monticello High School A 4:30
9 May SJO Invite (DH) H 9:30
11 May Danville High School H 4:30
14 May Mattoon High School H 4:30
16 May Salt Fork High School @ Jamaica (DH) A 11:00 AM
18 May Tri-Valley High School A 4:30
19-22 May IHSA Regionals A TBA
23 May IHSA Regional Championship A TBA

2020 JV Baseball Schedule

Date Opponent Home
20 March Normal West @ Edwardsville High School A 10:00 AM
23 March Mahomet-Seymour High School H 4:30
25 March Danville High School @ Tilton A 4:30
28 March Mahomet-Seymour High School (DH) A 11:00 AM
31 March Champaign Central High School H 4:30
2 April GCMS High School H 4:30
4 April Teutopolis High School (DH) A 10:00 AM
6 April Charleston High School-Baker Field A 4:30
8 April St. Thomas More High School H 4:30
9 April Heritage High School @ Broadlands A 4:30
10 April Maroa-Forsyth High School A 4:30
11 April PBL HS/Villa Grove HS @ PBL (DH-round robin) A 10:00 AM/12:00 PM
13 April Champaign Central High School H 4:30
15 April Champaign Centennial High School H 4:30
16 April Bloomington Central Catholic High School A 4:30
17 April LeRoy High School H 4:30
18 April Olympia High School (DH) H 10:00 AM
20 April Unity High School H 4:30
21 April Oakwood High School H 4:30
22 April Tri-Valley High School A 4:30
23 April Pontiac High School A 4:30
25 April Normal Community HS/IVC High School
NCHS (DH-round robin)
A 10:00 AM/12:00 PM
27 April Prairie Central High School H 4:30
28 April Rantoul High School A 4:30
29 April Oakwood High School H 4:30
30 April Charleston High School H 4:30
4 May Olympia High School A 4:30
6 May TBA H 4:30
7 May Monticello High School H 4:30
8 May Westville High School A 4:30
14 May Mattoon High School A 4:30
15 May Champaign Centennial High School A 4:30
18 May PBL High School H 4:30

Governor ask that Illinois schools close until March 31

Earlier today, Illinois announced all schools K-12, both public and private in the state, will be closed through March 30 starting next Tuesday, March 17.

A little more than 24 hours before the governor's announcement, St. Joseph-Ogden CHSD #305 superintendent Brian Brooks sent a letter to parents outlining the districts plan to remain open, but to cancel extra-curricular events and field trip as of yesterday until Sunday, April 5.

In the statement from Brooks, he shared that SJO has begin working on an E-Plan for online/remote teaching should the governor is forced to extend the term of the closure in the interest of public safety and health. The Illinois State Board of Education is working with lawmakers to create a waiver system in order to expedite approval for schools in a similar situation that did not submit a plan at the beginning of the year for E-Learning.

Pritzker ordered the closing of every school in the state until March 30 starting Tuesday amid concerns over the spread of coronavirus pandemic. The number of confirmed cases in Illinois rose to 46 earlier today.

"All of these choices have cascading effects for citizens and vulnerable populations when it comes to food access, safety, childcare, and social services," Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement earlier today. "We’ve seen what happens in places that didn’t move with urgency. I ask all of you not to hesitate to do the right thing for your family, your friends, and your community. One small step at a time, we will get through this together."

The state's chief lawmaker hopes that social-distancing will slow the spread of the virus.

Almost two million students will not be returning to classrooms next week. This also means no practices for sport teams, practice for scholastic and performing arts groups and the postponement of meetings normally held on high school campuses around the state.

Other states and large cities around the country have announced school shutdowns this week over to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. DC, Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin have closed schools for until the end of the month or longer.

Earlier in the week, the governor called on the public to call off any event or gathering of 250 people or more. He also asked that all events with one thousand or more people in attendance be canceled or postponed immediately.

Wagner named Most-Valuable-Wrestler

Junior AJ Wagner was recognized as the program's most-valuable-wrestler at the Sports Awards Program held Tuesday night at St. Joseph-Ogden High School.

Wagner, who finished his junior season with a record of 42 wins and 10 losses, was a state finalist at 113-pounds. He also received the Iron Spartan Award as well as his varsity letter.

St. Joseph-Ogden wrestler AJ Wagner
St. Joseph-Ogden's AJ Wagner is declared winning after a 5-1 decision over Mount Carmel's Cade Keepes at the IHSA state wrestling tournament on February 21, 2020. In addition to earning another varsity letter, Wagner earned the team's MVP award and the Iron Spartan Award. See more photos from his tournament appearance along with fellow Spartan Isaiah Immke here. (Photo: PhotoNews Media/Clark Brooks)

A few of Wagner's notable victories this season included a win over Deer Creek-Mackinaw's Payton Murphy and pinning PORTA's Jake Lieb.

The Spartan wrestler also bested Carlinville state-qualifier Jake Schwartz, who finished his season at 39-6, twice during the season, once at ABE's Rumble and the PORTA Invite.

Sophomore Conrad Miller earned the Most-Improved-Wrestler award.

Seniors Trevon Carr and Brodie Sullivan, seniors and both members of this year's playoff football squad were award varsity wrestling letters. Juniors letter winners, in addition to Wagner, included Isaiah Immke, Max Shonkwiler.

Additionally, three other underclassmen earned varsity letters along with Miller. Sophomores Chase Chapman and Isaiah Moore as well as freshman Owen Birt received letters for their efforts during the winter sports season.

25 cases of Coronvirus identifed in Illinois, thankfully none local

Earlier today, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially labeled the COVID-19 viral disease, also known as the Coronavirus/Corona Virus that has swept into at least 114 countries and killed more than 4,000 people, a pandemic event.

According to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus a Geneva briefing, "This is the first pandemic caused by coronavirus." Today's announcement is the first time the WHO has called an viral flu outbreak a pandemic since the H1N1 "swine flu" in 2009.

Over 120,000 confirmed cases have been identified and more than 4,000 deaths have occurred as the virus continues to spread around the globe. In the United States, there have been one thousand COVID-19 cases and 30 deaths reported so far. New York state, with one of the largest known virus clusters in the country, has set up a "containment area" around the city of New Rochelle. According to news sources, 108 cases have been confirmed in Westchester County, New York.

According to the IDPH website, testing has confirmed 25 cases in Illinois as of time of article. Two hundred and sixty-six tests were rule negative. The IDPH lists 76 test still pending.

Illinois residents can follow infection rates on the IDPH site on the Covid-19 Persons Under Investigation tracking page.

Symptoms, which has an incubation period of two to 14 days, may include fever, coughing and shortness of breath. Human coronaviruses can sometimes cause lower-respiratory tract illnesses, such as pneumonia or bronchitis. The virus is most commonly spread from an infected person to others through the air by coughing and sneezing close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands touching an object or surface with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose, or eyes before washing your hands.

To avoid contracting the illness, the Center for Disease Control is recommending the people wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol and be sure to wipe all surfaces of your hands. Rub your hand together until they feel dry. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Since there is not a vaccine available or medicinal cure available at this time, the CDC also recommends avoiding close contact with people who are sick. People should do their best to put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting sick or with suppressed immune systems.

If you have any questions call 1-800-889-3931 to speak with an expert at the IDPH.

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