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New Richmond softball advances past Central, Altoona

New Richmond senior pitcher Sydney Kannel delivers a pitch during the Tigers' win over St. Croix Central last week.1 / 2
New Richmond’s Kate Johnson lined a triple during the Tigers’ seven-run fourth inning against St. Croix Central last Thursday. 2 / 2

After three innings that were making the fans and coaches nervous, the New Richmond softball team finally pulled away from the St. Croix Central Panthers in the opening round of WIAA Division 2 regional tournament action last Thursday.

New Richmond went into Thursday’s game as the second seed in the regional, while St. Croix Central came in with a 1-18 record. The Tigers led 2-1 until the bottom of the fourth inning, when they broke the game open with seven runs. The Tigers won on the 10-run rule in the fifth inning, 12-2.

With that win, the Tigers were scheduled to play at home on Tuesday against Altoona, the third seed in the regional bracket. The winner of Tuesday’s game was scheduled to play again this Thursday, against the winner of Tuesday’s game between Baldwin-Woodville and Ellsworth. That will likely be Baldwin-Woodville, which is undefeated this season.

If the Tigers thought their playoff opener was going to be easy, St. Croix Central wasn’t playing along. The Panthers put up one of their best efforts of the season in the opening innings of the game.

The Tigers scored once in the first inning. Callie Jirik flared a double down the rightfield line and scored on Megan Chelberg’s single. Central came back to tie the score in the top of the third inning. The Tigers had the chance for a big inning in the bottom of the third.

Jirik and Sydney Kannel led off with walks and Jirik scored on Sydney Jones’ double. After a walk to Chelberg loaded the bases with no outs, the Tigers went down on two infield flies and a groundout.

In the fourth inning, the Tigers finally started pounding the ball. A triple by Kate Johnson got the inning started. Ellie Emerson doubled to centerfield moments later. A combination of hits and walks allowed the Tigers to roll up seven runs in the inning.

Central got one run back in the fifth inning on a Tiger error, but the Tigers were now pounding the ball in each at-bat. Emerson, Jirik and Kannel led off the fifth inning with singles. The winning run came home on a St. Croix Central error.

Tiger coach Emily Dabrowski said the team had a meeting following the game. She told the girls they will have to play sharper, smarter ball if they plan to reach their goals in the WIAA tournaments.

The Tigers finished the regular season last Tuesday with a 11-4 win at Osceola. The Tigers finished tied for third in the final Middle Border Conference standings with Prescott. Both teams had 7-5 records.

The offense also had a slow start at Osceola, with the Tigers leading 2-0 after four innings. The Tigers had to do some lineup juggling early in this game after Kannel sprained her ankle running the bases in the first inning. Sophomore Miah Olson took over on the mound and pitched the rest of the way for the Tigers.

The Tigers broke out against Osceola with seven runs in the fifth inning. Doubles by Jones, Cassie Martie, Jirik and Chelberg fueled the rally. The Tigers added two more runs in the sixth inning, with a double from Olson being the big hit of the inning.

New Richmond defeated Altoona 6-3 on Tuesday. That moves the Tigers into this Thursday's regional final game, which will be played at Baldwin-Woodville at 5 p.m.

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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