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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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 St. Croix Central track teams achieved a first in program history last Tuesday when they swept the championships in the 2014 Dunn-St. Croix Conference track meet. The Panthers have had a number of outstanding teams throughout the program’s history, but never have both teams been able to capture conference championships in the same year until now. St.
The Somerset baseball team will get an extra day of rest before they start play in the WIAA Division 2 regional tournament. The Spartans received the second seed in the voting among the coaches in the regional tournament. That means the Spartans draw a bye when the regional tournament begins next Tuesday. The Spartans will play the next day, Wednesday, June 4, in the second round of regionals. They will host the game, against the winner of Tuesday’s game between Amery and St. Croix Central.
The Somerset boys golf team and two members of the New Richmond team will be competing in WIAA sectional tournaments next Tuesday. Somerset's boys advanced by taking third place at the Division 2 regional tournament the Spartans hosted at Bristol Ridge Golf Club on Wednesday. New Richmond took fifth place at the Division 1 tournament which the Tigers hosted at the New Richmond Golf Club on Wednesday. The top four teams advance to the sectional tournament.
While Ellsworth and Prescott are locked into the top two slots in the Middle Border Conference baseball standings, there’s an interesting battle brewing for third place, with four teams involved in the battle. New Richmond, Somerset, Osceola and Amery have all had their shots to take on third place. New Richmond moved into third place with a 7-6 record by topping two of its competitors in games last week. The Tigers won on their home field last Tuesday, beating Somerset 7-4.
Somerset coach Cory Lindenberg said he thought his Spartans matched up well against Altoona, the team’s first round opponent in the WIAA Division 2 regional tournament last Tuesday. For three innings, the Spartans were the better team. Somerset led 5-0 until Altoona scored six runs in the third and fourth innings. The Railroaders added 10 more runs to win 16-5, eliminating the Spartans from the playoffs and ending their season. The Spartans started the tournament game by playing some of their best ball.
The importance of capitalizing on scoring chances was clear to the New Richmond girls soccer team in its two games last week. New Richmond and Superior battled for the Middle Border Conference lead on the Tigers’ homefield last Tuesday. Superior did a better job of capitalizing on its opportunities to defeat the Tigers 4-2. When the Tigers hosted Somerset last Thursday, the Tigers showed a better ability to get goals out of quality scoring chances.
The St. Croix Central softball team didn’t go down without a fight in its WIAA Division 2 playoff opener at New Richmond last Thursday. The Panthers didn’t look like a team that carried a 1-18 record into the game when they trailed 2-1 heading into the home half of the fourth inning. New Richmond was able to score nine times in the next two innings to defeat the Panthers 12-2, ending Central’s softball season. To make matters worse for the Panthers Thursday, they had to play the game without their only senior.
When the WIAA baseball playoffs begin next Tuesday, St. Croix Central is a number six seed that teams aren’t going to want to face. The Panthers continued the improvement they’ve shown all through the second half of the season by decisively winning two Dunn-St. Croix Conference games. The Panthers knocked around Boyceville 9-5 on Tuesday and they followed that with a 10-0 win over Plum City on Thursday. The wins get the Panthers to one of their season goals, reaching the .500 level in conference action.
Superior and New Richmond are the two top teams in the Middle Border Conference girls soccer race because of their team speed and ability to score goals in a hurry. Somerset faced both of the MBC leaders last week. In stretches of both games the Spartans played well, but they couldn’t match their opponents’ firepower. The Spartans lost to New Richmond 3-0 on Thursday and at Superior on Friday, 5-0. Superior is led by the state’s leading scorer, Malley O’Brien. But she wasn’t the star of the game.