New Richmond U10 softball earns trip to state, national tournamentsThe youngest level of competitive softball in New Richmond has produced a major accomplishment.
The youngest level of competitive softball in New Richmond has produced a major accomplishment.
The New Richmond U10 softball team has qualified to compete in state and national tournaments through its participation in the Minnesota Tri-County U10 League.
This is the third year that New Richmond softball has competed in the Tri-County League and it is the second time a New Richmond team has advanced to the national tournament. Two years ago, the U12 team qualified for nationals. Both teams that reached nationals were coached by Christi Salmon and Chris Kupczak.
The U10 team has just two girls returning from last year’s team. They began practicing in early May. They went through the regular season with a 9-7 record. In the recent league tournament, they greatly elevated their play. They won their two games in the opening day of the tournament against Baldwin and North Branch, Minn. They played right to the end of the second day, before suffering their second loss in the double-elimination tournament. Their strong play earned them third place in the tournament and qualified them for the state and national tournaments.
The state tournament will be played this weekend in Hastings, Minn. Two weeks later, they will play in the NAFA national tournament in Bloomington, Minn. The team is guaranteed four games at the national tournament. The state tournament will be run in a double-elimination format.
The U10 coaches said they’ve been impressed with how rapidly the girls progressed through the season.
“They learned how to play as a team,” Kupczak said.
Salmon agreed, saying “they’re a great group of girls. They just have fun with it.”
The coaches said the national tournament is more of an event than a traditional tournament. The girls will exchange gifts with their opening opponent and they are encouraged to trade pins and build friendships with girls from other teams competing in the tournament.
Anyone interested in donating to help the U10 team pay for its trip can contact Salmon at email@example.com.
One of the highlights of the league tournament for New Richmond was a dramatic win over Faribault, Minn. New Richmond trailed 4-0 in the final inning, before tying the game on a grand slam homer. The tournament was played with international tie-break rules and New Richmond was able to earn the win in the extra inning of play.
Salmon and Kupczak said the softball program has benefitted greatly from the decision three years ago to leave the western Wisconsin association to join the Tri-County League. The Minnesota league is more advanced in its expectations of the players and the coaches said it has helped the girls’ skills evolve more rapidly. Several other Wisconsin programs have made the move to the Minnesota league, including Hudson, Somerset, River Falls and Baldwin.
The U10 team is the youngest New Richmond team that travels to play. There is another younger program, a U8 in-house program. The four U8 teams compete against each other, in a program that is constructed to give the girls a broad base of skills by the time they begin competing at the U10 level.