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St. Croix Central softball girls prove something to themselves

St. Croix Central’s Lacy Sundberg (8) was forced out at the plate in this recent Panther game.

With the inexperience on the St. Croix Central softball team, the Panthers don’t know how good they can be.

When the Panthers played at Boyceville on April 14, they found out that they can compete with some of the best teams in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference.

Boyceville is tied with Pepin-Alma for the D-SC lead. Boyceville had a fight on its hands when it faced the Panthers, pulling out a 6-3 win.

Central coach Mindy Rudiger said this game was crucial in terms of the Panthers’ progress. She said the team is beginning to grasp the importance of defense and fundamentals and is improving in that area.

Junior Abby Harrington threw her first varsity complete game against Boyceville, in “icky conditions,” according to Rudiger. Harrington struck out 11 batters in the game, giving Rudiger confidence that Harrington can emerge as one of the top pitchers in the D-SC.

“She is one of the quickest pitchers in the conference and she’s just a junior. We still need to work on her hitting her spots,” Rudiger said.

With just two errors in the game, the Panthers showed a sharp upturn in their defensive play. Rudiger said bunt coverage, passed balls and defending stolen bases are all areas the team will run drills on to further improve the defense.

Some early momentum also was a key part in the Panthers’ competitiveness in this game. Central scored three times in the top of the first inning to take an early lead.

Jami Ruvelson led off the game with a walk and she scored when Harrington smacked a double. Harrington scored when Angel Vermeersch followed Harrington’s double with one of her own. Vermeersch came around to score when Sadie Buckel delivered the Panthers’ third double of the inning.

The Panthers could never regain the offensive spark they had in the first inning. They were limited to two hits during the rest of the game.

The conference schedule gets incredibly busy for the Panthers in the next few days. They will play at home Thursday against Elk Mound before playing at Elmwood-Plum City on Friday. Next week starts with a game at Spring Valley on Monday, followed by a home game versus Elmwood-Plum City next Tuesday.

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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