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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Tournament season is right around the corner and it was clearly in the thoughts of the New Richmond tennis team in its home quad meet on Saturday.
The New Richmond softball team has shown the capability to play evenly with any team in the Middle Border Conference. That will be put to the test in the final two weeks of the MBC season. The Tigers will face Ellsworth and Prescott, two of the top teams in the MBC, twice in the final days of the season. And they’ll also face St. Croix Central and Somerset, the two teams that reside at the bottom of the MBC standings.
The offense of the Somerset softball team sputtered along through six innings in their Saturday morning makeup game against Amery. Facing a 5-2 deficit, the Spartans located their offense. Six straight Spartans reached base, getting three runs home and forcing the game into extra innings. The Spartans were unstoppable now, getting the winning run in the eighth inning to defeat the Warriors, 6-5. The win raises Somerset’s record to 3-4 in the Middle Border Conference.
It appeared the Somerset girls soccer team was on its way to a victory at Baldwin-Woodville last Tuesday, leading 3-0 at halftime. But momentum can be a fickle and elusive thing. Once the Spartans lost it, they couldn’t get it back. And B-W used the second half momentum to stun the Spartans, 4-3. The Spartans didn’t let the shock of Tuesday’s loss keep them down. They bounced back with a healthy 3-0 win over Barron on Thursday. This leaves the Spartans with a 6-3-2 record.
While the Somerset track team had several successes in the Stan Barr Relays at New Richmond on Friday, there had to be several events where the Spartans had to look around and go, “holy cow, look who we’re running against!” The Spartan boys are young and the girls don’t have the numbers to be competitive in every event in a meet like the Relays, where depth is at the utmost of importance. The Spartan girls placed ninth of 15 teams and the boys ranked 13th of 15 teams.
Members of the St. Croix Central track team lined the inside edge of the infield as the 1,600 meter relay was run as the final event at the Amery Invitational last Tuesday. The Panthers knew they went into the race with a slim lead over Osceola. Getting a win over their Middle Border Conference rivals became very important to the Panthers and it showed. The 1,600 relay team was able to take sixth place, which earned Central the meet championship by 2.5 points over Osceola. Central’s girls took third place in their half of the meet.
In one game, the offense arrived. The St. Croix Central’s baseball team had been showing signs of breaking out of its season-long hitting slump. It finally happened on Saturday. In a non-conference game against Luck/Frederic, the Panthers used 13 hits and 12 walks to roll to a 20-3 victory. The win ended a seven-game losing streak for the Panthers. To put Saturday’s outburst in context, the 20 runs matches the offensive output the Panthers had in their first eight games this season and was more than they scored in their last eight games.
While wins have been hard to come by for the St. Croix Central softball team in the past few weeks, the Panthers have maintained a forward thinking, positive frame of mind. That frame of mind got knocked a little off kilter last Thursday at Somerset. Facing the team directly above them in the standings, the Panthers were hoping to put together a spirited showing. Instead, they struggled and it showed, losing to the Spartans 20-5.
The Somerset baseball team managed two wins last week, but the shortage of pitching on the young team caused other chances at wins to slip away. Somerset earned a 10-4 Middle Border Conference win over St. Croix Central to start last week. And the Spartans won the second game in their home tournament on Saturday, defeating Spooner 15-10. In between, the Spartans lost three games.
The 2016 season was a transition season for the New Richmond Millers. The city league baseball team worked a number of younger players into the lineup last season. It resulted in the Millers only winning three games in the St. Croix Valley Baseball League. The Millers are hoping the growth pains they endured in 2016 will result in a higher win total in 2017. The Millers start their 2017 season this Sunday with a 1 p.m. game at Bay City.