With improvement, comes new challenges.
This Somerset team is one of the youngest and least experienced teams in the Middle Border Conference. Spartan coach Cory Lindenberg said the girls are showing improvement every time they practice or play. He said the improvement showed at Ellsworth brought out more issues the team has to deal with.
“We played much better defensively,” Lindenberg said. “But by getting to those balls, we had to make decisions.”
The improved defensive play put the Spartans in a position to get four Ellsworth baserunners in rundowns. Unfortunately, the Spartans weren’t able to get any outs on those plays. That allowed Ellsworth to break open a game that was 3-1 until the latter stages of the game.
“Each of those times, we didn’t finish, but we got there,” Lindenberg said of the rundown possibilities. “That’s a good thing.”
Defense has been a main focus for the Spartans in recent practices and it is paying dividends. Senior Megan Starry moved to centerfield this season and she made a couple over the shoulder catches on hard-hit line drives. Lindenberg said Racheal Russell and Katie Berg are showing progress as the Spartans’ corner outfielders.
Freshman Abbie Rivard is also rapidly gaining respect as the Spartans’ catcher.
“She hasn’t allowed a passed ball this season,” Lindenberg said.
The Spartans got their only run of the game in the third inning. Starry led off with a single. A groundout moved her to second base and she was able to score on Jocelyn Rivard’s single.
Starry and Rachel Cloutier led the Spartans with two hits each. The team finished with six hits in the six inning game.
The lack of experience on the Spartans showed in pressure hitting situations. Lindenberg said there were five instances where the Spartans got a baserunner to third base against Ellsworth, but failed to get the runners home.
This week the Spartans will face two of the best pitchers in the conference in back-to-back road games. The Spartans play Thursday at Baldwin-Woodville (postponed), where they will face all-state pitcher Abby Klopp. The assignment doesn’t get any easier on Friday, when the Spartans play at Durand. Durand’s Morganne Gruber has been posting exceptional numbers this season too.
The Spartans will return to their home turf for a pair of games to start next week. The Spartans are scheduled to host New Richmond on Monday and Osceola on Tuesday.