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New Richmond softball team hoping to get on a roll

New Richmond’s Kate Johnson (7) scores for the Tigers during their loss to Durand last Thursday.

The New Richmond softball team is hoping to use this week to get on a winning roll. The Tigers couldn’t have started the week better.

The Tigers scored 11 runs in the first inning and they continued to batter Amery pitching on Monday, winning 24-3 in five innings.

Every Tiger starter scored at least once in the game. Cassie Martie led the attack by scoring four times. Five other Tigers scored three times. Among the hits in the first inning were doubles from Maddie Krumm, Kate Johnson, Kaitlynn Belisle and Martie. Belisle and Lexi Derrick tripled later in the game.

Sydney Kannel started as the Tigers’ pitcher. After the 11-run barrage in the first inning, the Tiger coaches decided to rest Kannel and had freshman Erin Peterson pitch the rest of the game, getting her first work in a Middle Border Conference game.

The win raises the Tigers to 4-4 in the conference, putting them in third place.

The Tigers are hoping Monday’s win will kickstart a winning streak. They were scheduled to play at Prescott on Tuesday. On Thursday, the Tigers host Somerset in a double-header that will begin at 4 p.m. The Tigers move outside the conference for their next games, facing Bloomer and Superior on Saturday in a tournament at Bloomer. The Tigers return to their MBC schedule next Tuesday for a game at Ellsworth.

When the Tigers have lost this season, each loss still gave the Tigers some reason to remain upbeat. That changed when the Tigers lost on their home field to Durand last Thursday. The Tigers struggled uncharacteristically in several areas, resulting in the 7-4 loss.

The Tigers have been sharp in the field and on the basepaths this season, but they didn’t have their usual crispness in those areas against Durand. The Tiger defense had several chances to make plays where they didn’t execute the play cleanly. And a couple baserunning mistakes were costly, taking away chances for big innings.

Tiger coach Emily Dabrowski said she was stunned to see her team’s defense erode late in the game.

“Defense has definitely been our strength all year. Everyone has off days. We had ours for the year,” she said.

The Tigers had rallied in the bottom of the fourth inning for three runs to take a 3-1 lead. Kate Johnson started the rally with a single. Kannel, Derrick and Megan Chelberg followed with doubles to produce the runs. It appeared the Tigers were on the verge of putting the game away.

Instead, they gave the game away. Durand scored four runs in the top of the fifth inning to regain the lead, mostly through the Tigers’ generous defense.

“For the first time this season, I got upset in a game,” Dabrowski said of the Tigers’ struggles.

Two baserunning mistakes in the later innings robbed the Tigers of golden chances to retake the lead.

The Tigers bounced back on Saturday when they played two games at Baldwin-Woodville, though the final scores might not lead you in that direction.

In the opening game, the Tigers faced MBC leader Baldwin-Woodville to make up the cancellation of their recent conference date. B-W won the game 7-2, but the Tigers gave the Blackhawks the best challenge they’ve received in conference play this season. The Tigers trailed 3-0 after four innings.

The Tigers didn’t get a baserunner in the first three innings against the blazing pitches of B-W ace Abby Klopp.

“The second time through the lineup, we started putting the ball in play,” Dabrowski said.

The Tigers scored once in the sixth and once in the seventh to make sure this was a battle to the finish. Belisle doubled home Kannel for the run in the seventh inning.

In the second round of the tournament, the Tigers faced River Falls. This turned out to be a slugfest of mammoth proportions. The Tigers won the home run derby, knocking four balls over the fence, but the Wildcats outscored the Tigers 14-9.

Derrick led the home run festivities, belting two over the fence, including a grand slam homer in the fourth inning.

“We knew she had it in her,” Dabrowski said of Derrick’s power. Derrick has just missed hitting the ball over the fence several times in recent games.

Kannel and Martie also homered in the fourth inning. The three-homer inning may be a first in the history of the Tiger softball program. The Tigers scored seven runs during that rally.

Peterson pitched the first three innings against River Falls, with Kannel working the final four frames.

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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