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New Richmond softball team finds shelter in dome

New Richmond pitcher Jordyn Bonney tries to adjust the piece of carpet used as the pitching rubber during the Tigers' game against Menomonie at the domed facility in Stillwater last Friday. Tiger coach Becky Ahlbrecht and the team's infielders huddle as Bonney makes the needed adjustments.

Any dome in a storm.

The New Richmond softball teams were able to get an edge on most Wisconsin teams by playing their opening game of the season last Friday against Menomonie. They went indoors to play the game, tangling with the Mustangs in the dome at the St. Croix Recreational Center in Stillwater. Menomonie scored a 21-6 win in the game.

Because the Tigers haven't been able to practice outdoors yet this spring, Friday's outing served a different purpose than most opening games.

"My goal was to see what people could do," said Tiger coach Becky Ahlbrecht.

The Tigers have to fill some of the key roles on the team, including pitcher and shortstop. Three girls were given the chance to audition at pitcher on Friday, including senior Jordyn Bonney and juniors Sydney Kannel and Callie Jirik. Ahlbrecht said Bonney showed good velocity, but needs to improve the location of her pitches. She said Kannel has been the most consistent of the three thus far.

Kannel got the start at shortstop after playing third base last year. Ahlbrecht said the Tigers have to find another option for shortstop if Kannel pitches, with Jirik and Maddie Krumm showing Friday that they can be viable options.

It took the Tigers a couple innings to adjust to the conditions in the dome, which helped Menomonie jump to an 11-0 lead in the first inning. The artificial turf produced much higher, faster hops than a natural surface would. Ahlbrecht said it took the players several innings to adjust to the low-light conditions of the dome.

The Tigers finished with six hits in the game. Kaitlyn Johnson led the team with two hits, a double and a single. Jordan Pastorius, Kaitlynn Belisle, Krumm and Jirik each produced one hit.

Pitching depth could get tested once the team does get the chance to take the field. The Middle Border Conference athletic directors have decided that the conference games that haven't been played in the first half of the season will be made up as two five-inning games in the second half of the calendar. There hasn't been a conference game played yet, so this is going to put a heavy burden on the pitchers around the conference.

The Tigers are scheduled to host Amery this Thursday in what would have been the final game in the first half of the conference schedule. As of Monday that game had not been cancelled, but it is unlikely to be played. The Tigers are scheduled to play at Osceola Friday, which would begin the second-round double-headers. The Tigers were supposed to play in a tournament at Bloomer this Saturday, but that event has already been cancelled.