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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The difference between the New Richmond and Baldwin-Woodville softball teams in Monday’s Middle Border Conference clash was the Blackhawks’ ability to connect for hits with runners in scoring position. Baldwin-Woodville was the WIAA Division 2 state runner-up in 2013 after winning the state title in 2012 and the Blackhawks still have one of the best pitchers in the state in senior flamethrower Abby Klopp. Klopp has already signed a National Letter of Intent to play college softball at Indiana State University.
New Richmond boys track coach Roger Reuvers was bordering on giddy with the results his team posted in the Osceola Indoor Invitational at the Knowles Center indoor facility at UW-River Falls last Thursday. The Tiger boys won the meet, scoring 134 points to edge Osceola, which scored 129 points in the eight team meet. Osceola won the girls side of the meet with 149 points, with New Richmond taking second with 111 points. New Richmond’s boys team is still in the growing process, and the growth shown in this meet was massive.
Two wins were the product of a promising start for the New Richmond boys tennis team in the Eau Claire Memorial Invitational on Friday and Saturday. As the competition got more challenging, the Tigers found themselves a bit overmatched, losing their final two matches to finish in fourth place in the event. The Tigers started the tournament by facing La Crosse Aquinas, with the Tigers recording a 5-2 victory. The Tigers swept their four singles matches against Aquinas, with Nick Bradish, Jack Hop, Casey Turnipseed and Russ Hop sweeping the singles bouts.
Improvement, not team success, has been the focus of the Somerset track teams in the early stages of the 2014 season. The Spartans got a little boost last Thursday when it was announced that their boys team had won the team championship in the nine-team St. Croix Central Invitational. Spartan coach Terry Otradovec said the win was a relished surprise, saying it was more proof of the progress the team is making. “It wasn’t just the top guys who contributed,” Otradovec said.
With just two starters returning from last season’s team, the Somerset softball team will be extremely young this season. But much like the Spartan girls basketball team, being young doesn’t preclude the Spartans from being successful. The Spartans started their season with a 9-2 homefield loss to Prescott last Thursday. Senior outfielder Megan Starry and junior pitcher Rachel Cloutier are the only returning starters for the Spartans this season. Starry will shift from leftfield to play in centerfield this season.
The best way to describe the St. Croix Central baseball team is to call the Panthers “a work in progress.” The Panthers opened their Dunn-St. Croix Conference season at home last Thursday against Spring Valley. The game was close early, but Spring Valley broke the game open with a nine-run fourth inning in beating the Panthers 15-2. The challenge for the Panthers is finding a combination of veteran and younger players who can form into a competitive starting lineup.
Splitting the team up for two meets last week proved to be a beneficial move for the St. Croix Central track teams. The Panthers decided the previous week that last Thursday’s home meet would only be held for running events, because the field event areas were still too wet for use. The Panther coaches acted quickly, getting their field event athletes added to an indoor meet in Menomonie. The home meet went smoothly, with quite tolerable conditions for the nine teams to compete under on April 10.
Pitcher and catcher are arguably the two most important positions in softball. Those are two positions the St. Croix Central softball team has to fill this season. Kali Armagost was one of the top catchers in the area and Kelly Harrington was a two-year starter at pitcher. Their graduation major voids for the team to fill. With just one senior on the team, the Panthers are looking for a large class of juniors to step forward and take on major roles with the team this season. The Panthers began their season last week, losing games to Alma-Pepin, Glenwood City and Prescott.
The Somerset soccer team is trying to find where it fits within the Middle Border Conference. The Spartans started their MBC schedule last Thursday, facing Baldwin-Woodville, which is expected to be one of the more improved teams in the conference this season. The Blackhawks showed they were ready to make that step up, posting a 5-0 win against the Spartans. On Friday, the Spartans earned their first conference point when they finished in a 1-1 tie with Osceola. Somerset got the only goal of the first half in Friday’s game, thanks to a quick transition from defense to offense.
Five former New Richmond High School athletes and two former Tiger varsity coaches will be the 2014 inductees into the New Richmond High School Athletic Hall of Fame. The five athletes who were voted into the Hall of Fame include 1975 graduate Dwayne Harer, 1982 graduate Keith Gehring, 1987 graduate Sue Brennan, and a pair of 1995 graduates, Scott Cole and Travis Gibson. The former coaches who were elected into the Hall of Fame are former Tiger wrestling coach Bob Olson and former Tiger basketball coach Al Waschke. The inductees were notified last week of their elections.