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Panthers give top seed a real battle

Unless you are a state champion, your season ends with a loss. Sometimes, the best a team can hope for is that their season ends with a respectable loss.

The St. Croix Central girls softball team can certainly claim that. Facing the top seed in the Division 3 bracket, the Panthers gave St. Croix Falls a real battle last Thursday, playing on the Saints' field.

The game was scoreless until St. Croix Falls scored three runs in the fourth inning. The Saints added three more runs in the fifth inning, advancing on a 6-0 win over the Panthers.

The turning point of the game was the second batter of the St. Croix Falls fourth inning. The Saints have a standout in sophomore catcher Ashley Lundgren. With one swing of the bat she turned the game, driving a Justina Bisch pitch over the left field fence for a homer.

"That home run sparked them," said St. Croix Central coach Brian Daniel.

The Saints collected four more hits in that inning to get home two more runs.

In the fifth the Saints got a leadoff triple from Ashley Shrock, starting off the second three-run rally.

Central had some chances, but never could get the hits to complete a rally. Marie Nelson led off the game with a single for the Panthers and was bunted to second. It looked like the Panthers might get an early run when Allison Fedie ripped a liner up the middle, but Schrock made a nice catch from her shortstop position.

Ella Olson singled leading off the second for the Panthers, but was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a double.

Fedie singled and was bunted to second in the fourth inning, but the Panthers couldn't get her home.

Marie Nelson led off the sixth inning with a smash deep to the right-center field alley. The Saint centerfielder made an outstanding running leap to snare the ball, taking away an extra-base hit from Nelson.

Nelson and Olson each finished the game with two hits to lead the Panther attack.

"Marie and Ella really hit the ball well," Daniel said.

Bisch had a no-hitter going until Lundgren's homer in the fourth inning. The only hits she allowed were during the fourth and fifth innings, when the Saints scored their six runs. Bisch walked two and struck out eight during the game.

Bisch was one of the surprises of the Dunn-St. Croix Conference this season. She did not become a pitcher until after the halfway point of last season.

"Just think if she would have pitched for four years," Daniel said. "She had all of our wins last year. It's a testament to how hard she works."

The Panthers end their 2004 season with a 8-10 overall record after finishing 7-6 in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference.

"It was good to end knowing that we gave a good team a good game," Daniel said.

St. Croix Falls 6,

St. Croix Central 0



M.Nelson 3b 3-0-2, Hawkins ss 2-0-0, Bisch p 2-0-0, Fedie dp 3-0-1, Gillis 1b 0-0-0, Olson c 2-0-2, J.Nelson lf 3-0-0, Brown cf 3-0-0, Heinbuch rf 2-0-0, Zwald 2b 2-0-0. Totals 22-0-5.


Schrock ss 4-1-1, Lamirande 2b 3-0-0, Lundgren c 3-2-2, Redlich cf 3-2-1, Woltz dp 2-1-1, Muschinske p 3-0-0, Carlson lf 2-0-1, Weinberg rf 2-0-1, Busby 1b 3-0-0. Totals 25-6-7.

St. Croix Central 000 000 0=0

St. Croix Falls 000 330 x=6


St. Croix Central

Bisch (L) 7 7 6 4 2 8

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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