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Rivard's two homers carry Somerset softball team to victory

Somerset freshman Abbie Rivard lunges to touch home plate to complete the first of her two inside-the-park homers in last Tuesday’s 7-2 win over Amery.

Freshman catcher Abbie Rivard burned Amery’s outfielders for two inside-the-park homers in leading the Somerset softball team to a 7-2 win over Amery last Tuesday.

This produced Somerset’s first winning streak of the season, coming on the heels of the Spartans’ 15-1 win over St. Croix Central.

Rivard’s first homer produced the initial run of the game in the second inning. She hit a laser beyond the reach of the Amery centerfielder to the deepest part of Somerset’s field at Larry Forrest Park. Her second bomb completed a four-run Spartan rally in the third inning. She hit this one to the leftfield gap, where it rolled to the 300-foot sign on the outfield fence.

Somerset coach Cory Lindenberg said it was just a matter of time before Rivard began timing pitches and hitting for power at the varsity level.

“Last year she was a very good hitter. You saw the potential was there,” he said. “This was a great breakout game for her.”

Several Spartans had excellent offensive nights. Ally Wittstock led off the third inning with the first of her three hits and she scored on Jocelyn Rivard’s single. Rachel Russell followed with a single and Rivard scored on Rachel Cloutier’s groundout. That set the stage for Abbie Rivard’s second homer.

The Spartans added two more runs in the sixth inning. Autumn Wilson, Katie Berg and Megan Starry all singled to load the bases with two outs. Wittstock then smacked a single to drive home two runs.

Cloutier handled the pitching for the Spartans. The left-hander struck out five Amery batters while walking three.

On Thursday, the Spartans were put in the unenviable situation of having to face one of the hottest pitchers in the state in a double-header. Baldwin-Woodville’s Abbie Klopp is considered one of the best pitchers in the state and she’s been on perhaps the best pitching streak of her career. The Spartans put up a spirited effort, but lost by 9-0 scores in both of the five-inning games at Larry Forrest Park.

In the opening game, Klopp was untouchable. She threw a perfect game, retiring all 15 Spartan batters she faced. Twelve of those outs came on strikeouts.

B-W is 18-0 this season, but the Spartans stuck right with them in the first game. The score was 3-0 after four innings and the three Blackhawk runs were all unearned after the Spartans dropped a flyball with the bases loaded.

“Other than that, we were playing great defense,” Lindenberg said.

He said shortstop Katie Berg had an incredible game. She twice made stops on scorchers hit by Klopp and turned them into outs.

Cloutier was also very sharp in holding the Blackhawks down until the fifth inning. Cloutier’s changeup was effective in the opening game, throwing off the timing of the Blackhawk hitters.

Before the second game, Lindenberg instructed his players to take their best swings at Klopp’s pitches, instead of being fearful of her overpowering fastball. The Spartans got three hits in the second game, a double by Russell and singles by Cloutier and Jocelyn Rivard.

The B-W hitters took their strong finish from the first game and carried it into the second game, scoring seven runs in the first inning. The Spartans didn’t crumble. They retired the Hawks without a baserunner in the next two innings, before B-W added two more runs in the fourth inning.

Lindenberg said he was happy with the way the Spartans rose to meet the challenge of facing one of the state’s best pitchers and a team that has been to the WIAA state tournament the past two years.

“It’s fun to go against somebody like that who you know is the best of the best,” he said.

Somerset is slated to begin play in the WIAA Division 2 regional tournament this Thursday. The Spartans received the sixth seed in the regional tournament bracket. That means they will play at the third seed, Altoona, on Thursday at 5 p.m. Lindenberg said he was pleased with the draw. He feared the Spartans would face Ellsworth, which has become one of the best hitting teams in the Middle Border Conference this season.

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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