Then his Seminoles managed to climb out of a 3-0 hole in the bottom of the seventh inning and beat Hamilton 4-3 in the championship of the 2011 Monroe County Fast-Pitch Tournament.
"Winning this tournament is unbelievable. I think coming in we were pretty much an underdog," said Duke, his team aiming for its fourth straight North title after losing six seniors. "We've got some good young talent and we're just now starting to put it all together."
With one lone hit through six innings against Hamilton pitcher Lexus Jordan and trailing 3-0 with three outs remaining before forcing the tournament's seventh and deciding game, Smithville pitcher Meagan Whitehead beat out an infield single and Kami Roberts singled.
Jordan then got a flyout and strikeout.
With two outs, Kyla Ford's RBI single scored Whitehead. Linsey Lann then doubled to scored Roberts and Billie Claire Goode to tie the game at 3. Lann advanced to third on the throw and Taylor Ann Boozer singled through the left side of Hamilton's infield as courtesy runner Katie King scored the winner.
"We had the top of the lineup coming up and the bottom knocked them in, just did a great job all the way around," Duke said. "That's what we've been trying to do all year."
A battle of two young teams, Hamilton lost 4-1 against Smithville (7-5) Saturday morning before eliminating Hatley with a 5-4 win. Hatley eliminated Amory in Saturday's opener 10-6.
"It's Monroe County Tournament. It's really competitive and I'm so proud of my team," said ICC-signee Roberts.
In the title game, the Lady Lions (6-6) had taken a 2-0 lead in the fifth inning.
Christy Willis tripled and scored on Raimi Bryan's sac fly. Seniors Caitlyn Atkins and Anna Imel then singled; Atkins scored on Addie Thompson's single.
Smithville catcher Breanna Edgeworth recovered the relay thrown to the backstop just in time to get it to Whitehead to tag Imel hustling to the plate.
Hamilton got its third run in the sixth. Jordan doubled and courtesy runner Aaliyah Verner scored when Cheyenne Logan's infield pop fell to the ground as Roberts and Lann collided.
"They did what you're supposed to do," Hamilton coach Jason Cobb said. "They were the home team and the top of the lineup was up and they found a way to get on base and just made it happen."