Panthers force Spartan errors, beat Somerset 10-1
After her seventh inning strikeout, Somerset's Erin Dodor went into the dugout and cried. It was symbolic of the frustration the Spartans felt in their 10-1 loss to St. Croix Central last Thursday.
This game was the opener for both teams in the WIAA Division 3 regional tournament bracket. With the win Central advanced into Tuesday's second round of regionals against St. Croix Falls.
The two teams took vastly different approaches to the game. While Somerset's girls were taking extended, wild swings at the pitches of Central's Justina Bisch, the Panthers decided to play "small ball." The Panthers were bunting the ball whenever they got someone on base, and it eventually forced the Spartans into making mistakes.The Panthers then tried to steal whenever possible, just as they've done in most of their successful games this season.
"It's a simple fact, St. Croix Central outplayed us," said Somerset coach Jane Driscoll. "They hit the ball and we didn't and they made the plays on defense and we didn't."
Somerset didn't get a hit until the fifth inning. Six of Somerset's first nine outs were on strikeouts.
Central went quietly in the first two innings, but all that changed in the third inning. Jenna Heinbuch reached on an infield single. Annette Zwald then walked. Jill Hawkins then singled up the middle. Heinbuch scored on the hit and Zwald scored when there was a throwing error on the relay. Hawkins then scored when Allison Fedie lined a single up the middle.
Heinbuch again led off the fourth inning, reaching on an error. Zwald then singled, Marie Nelson then put down a bunt, but the ball was thrown away. Hawkins then walked to load the bases, with Justina Bisch following with an rbi-single. Fedie then cracked a two-run double, raising the lead to 6-0.
That bottom of the order started the rally again in the fifth inning for the Panthers. Heinbuch walked and Zwald singled. Nelson then bunted again, and two runs ended up scoring on the play when the ball was thrown into right field. Hawkins then bunted, and she reached when the throw was mishandled, allowing Nelson to score to make the score 9-0.
The Panthers scored their final run on a walk by Ella Olson, two stolen bases, and a sharp single by Dayna Brown.
Central coach Brian Daniel said he was pleased with the attitude the Panthers took toward the game, especially coming off a game against Boyceville where the offense struggled.
"This game was a reflection of how our team really is," he said. "The girls had the killer instinct. We did almost everything right and Somerset panicked at times."
The Panthers compiled 10 stolen bases during the game. Those steals plus the numerous bunts put Panthers in scoring position and it continually put pressure on the Somerset defense.
The difficult loss was the end to a largely positive season for the Spartan girls.
"It wasn't the way the seniors wanted to end things," Driscoll said. "We didn't bat well and St. Croix Central played really well."
St. Croix Central 10, Somerset 1
Martin 3b 2-0-0, Steinlicht cf 3-0-0, Dodor c 3-0-0, Belisle 1b 3-1-1, Potting ss 3-0-0, Blue lf 2-0-0, Hatch 2b 2-0-1, Larson rf 2-0-0, Peterson dp 2-0-0. Totals 22-1-2.
ST. CROIX CENTRAL (10)
M.Nelson 3b 4-1-0, Hawkins ss 3-2-2, Bisch p 3-1-2, Fedie dp 4-0-2, Olson c 3-1-2, J.Nelson lf 4-0-1, Brown cf 4-0-1, Heinbuch rf 3-3-1, Zwald 2b 3-2-1. Totals 31-10-12.
2B-Belisle, Fedie. RBI-Hatch, Hawkins 2, Bisch, Fedie 3, Brown.
Somerset 000 010 0=1
St. Croix Central 003 331 x=10
PITCHERS IP H R ER BB SO
Johnson (L) 6 12 10 5 6 5
St. Croix Central
Bisch (W) 7 2 1 1 1 8