Somerset uses one big inning to edge SCC
For six of the seven innings between the Somerset and St. Croix Central softball teams, St. Croix Croix was probably the better team.
But that one inning where Somerset was the better team was enough to turn the game in Somerset's favor. The Spartans scored all six of their runs during the sixth inning, leading Somerset to a 6-5 win at Hammond last Friday.
For most of the game the Central girls were shutting down Somerset at every opportunity. Panther shortstop Jill Hawkins looked like she should be fitted for a Gold Glove, making stop after stop and firing bullets over to first baseman Allison Fedie to shut down the Spartans.
"Their shortstop (Hawkins) really impressed me," said Somerset coach Damon Barta. "That was a good defensive team."
In the few occasions where Somerset got baserunners, Central catcher Ella Olson threw out Spartans trying to steal second base.
The whole Panther defense had a good night, with the team only making one error. The Panthers turned a double play in the second inning. Justina Bisch made a tough running catch in the rightfield alley, then threw to Fedie to double up a runner who had strayed too far from first base.
"We played heads up defense, except in the sixth, when we just didn't make a couple throws to the right places," said Central coach Brian Daniel, who was making his first varsity coaching start against the high school he graduated from.
Both starting pitchers were sharp for most of the game. Somerset's Kaitlin Johnson and Central's Nicole Criego have battled control problems during the season, but both threw very well for most of this game.
Johnson had 12 walks in the game, but they were spaced out. Her only major control problem came in the second inning when she gave up two bases-loaded walks to send home the first two runs of the game. Johnson only allowed five hits in the game and was able to strike out seven Panthers.
Criego doesn't throw as hard as Johnson, but she was accurate and effective in moving the ball around the strike zone. Somerset got 10 hits off Criego, but she only walked four, while striking out one.
Somerset made its rally in the sixth inning with several hits and aggressive play. The big hit of the inning was a two-run double by Julie Markfort, with those two runs tying the game. Markfort then stole third base and scored the go-ahead run on Central's only error of the night.
"It was finally our turn to have a big inning," Barta said. "These were two very similar teams. We've both been hurt by the big inning this season."
Somerset's loss at Prescott
Somerset completed its first season in the Middle Border Conference by losing to the undefeated conference champion. Somerset played at Prescott last Thursday and kept the game close until the fifth inning. Prescott then got the big inning, scoring six runs to win 11-1. This gives Prescott a perfect 14-0 record in the MBC. Somerset finished tied with Ellsworth at 2-12 in the conference standings.
Barta said Prescott isn't a team that overwhelms opponents.
"They aren't the best hitting team in the conference or probably the best pitching team, but they don't make mistakes," he said.
Somerset's non-conference game with Luck scheduled for Monday was rained out and will not be made up.
The Spartans now begin WIAA tournament play this Thursday, with a game at Cumberland. Somerset was the fifth seed and Cumberland the fourth seed. Cumberland got the edge because it has one more win than the Spartans, though the Spartans played better in the two games where the teams had common opponents. The winner of this game likely will face Grantsburg, the number one seed in the regional, in the second round of tournament play next Tuesday.
Somerset 6, St. Croix Central 5
Peters lf 4-0-1, Kirk 3b 4-0-1, Lais ss 3-0-2, Belisle 1b 4-1-1, Dodor c 2-1-0, hatch 2b 4-1-2, Steinlicht cf 2-1-0, Markfort cf 3-1-2, Larson dh 2-1-1. Totals 28-6-10.
ST. CROIX CENTRAL (5)
Hawkins ss 2-1-1, Criego p 0-0-0, Nelson 3b 4-0-0, Olson c 3-0-0, Bisch cf 4-1-2, Grossaint 2b 3-0-1, Fedie 1b 2-1-0, Brown ph 0-0-0, Johnson dh 1-1-0, Nelson ph 1-0-0, Heinbuch rf 3-1-1. Totals 23-5-5.
2B-Markfort. RBI-Hatch, Markfort 2, Larson, Criego, Olson, Grossaint, Heinbuch, Hawkins.
Somerset 000 006 0=6
St. Croix Central 020 012 0=5
PITCHERS IP H R ER BB SO
St. Croix Central
Criego (L) 7 10 6 5 4 1
Johnson (W) 7 5 5 5 12 7