St. Croix Central softball team puts together impressive startThe names change through the years in the St. Croix Central softball program, but the success keeps coming.
By: Dave Newman, New Richmond News
The names change through the years in the St. Croix Central softball program, but the success keeps coming.
The Panthers started the 2012 season with a pair of sharp wins last week, beating Prescott and River Falls.
Central has gone 40-5 in its Dunn-St. Croix Conference games the past three years. The Panthers had several significant losses due to graduation last year, especially pitcher Nikki Brooks. But the team has come back looking just as strongly this season.
Junior Kelly Harrington has taken over as Central’s pitcher and she has made a smooth transition to the varsity level. She gave up one walk and one earned run in the win over River Falls. She also tagged a two-run homer over the leftfield fence in the third inning to put Central ahead.
River Falls came back to tie the game at 3-3 in the fifth inning on Central’s only two errors of the game.
The Panthers are always well-schooled in softball fundamentals and that proved pivotal in the sixth inning. The Panthers had runners on first and second base with two outs, when Coach Jimmy Anderson sent Kelsey McKenna in to pinch hit. McKenna had orders to drop a drag bunt down the first base line, which she did perfectly. She beat the throw to first and when the throw was off target, Heidi Feyereisen was able to score the go-ahead run.
The Panthers added another run in the seventh inning on a sacrifice fly by Harrington.
Anderson has taught the Panthers to take pride in performing the fundamentals correctly. In this game, the Panthers put down three successful sacrifice bunts. They also made a couple key defensive plays in the outfield. Centerfielder Kali Lawrence threw out a River Falls runner trying to score. Shaylyn Lyksett made a running catch on a ball hit deep to left field.
The Panthers were impressive in winning their season opener at Prescott last Tuesday. The Panthers played strong fundamental ball on offense and defense in beating the Cardinals 7-3.
The top of the batting order did a great job of setting up scoring opportunities. Lawrence reached base in all five plate appearances as the Panther leadoff hitter with two hits and three walks. Amanda Ruvelson did her job as the number two hitter with a hit and two sacrifice bunts. Prescott didn’t want to mess with Kalli Armagost. She walked three times and singled in her final at-bat.
Their efforts left lots of baserunners waiting to be knocked in. Harrington and Arinn DiSalvo each drove home two of the runs.
For a first game, Anderson was enthused with the performance of the defense. He said Hailey Rock at shortstop, Shelby Thomley at first base and Jessa Klinger in right field each made several nice defensive plays. The Panthers limited their errors to two and both were on difficult plays.
The pitching of Harrington answers many questions. With the graduation of four-year starter Brooks, the Panthers had to find a new pitcher. They didn’t have to look hard. Harrington has been waiting for her turn and she proved up to the task. She limited Prescott to six hits and she didn’t walk a batter. Anderson said Harrington throws a fastball that’s “sneaky fast,” to go along with a solid curveball and changeup.
The Panthers get to play at home this Thursday, when the co-op team from Spring Valley and Plum City visits. The Panthers are scheduled to play at Elmwood next Monday.