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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If you heard a huge sigh of relief floating on the winds from the north last Friday, it could have been the collective sigh from the Somerset softball team. The Spartans enjoyed their first win in a month on Friday when they earned a 7-3 victory at St. Croix Falls. The win came after the Spartans had not tasted victory in their previous 11 games. Friday's game was the beginning of the Spartans' drive toward the WIAA Division 2 playoffs, which begin this Thursday. The Spartans, now 4-12 after Friday's victory, earned the seventh seed in the regional tournament bracket.
A dramatic finish in front of a Parents' Day crowd helped make the first victory of the season even more special for the Somerset girls soccer team. The Spartans charged back from a 2-0 halftime deficit to defeat Barron 3-2 on Thursday. The Spartans honored their seniors and their parents before the game. Barron plays a style that relies on long boots of the ball in attempts to get breakaways. With the strong wind at their backs, the Bears were able to score twice in the first half. Once the Spartans got the wind at their backs, the game changed.
Getting their team leader back was the best possible thing for the St. Croix Central baseball team as the Panthers head into WIAA Division 2 playoff action this Friday. Senior Mike Nelson was given clearance on Monday to resume playing, a month after breaking his collarbone. Nelson made his return on Monday in the Panthers' 11-4 loss at Baldwin-Woodville. The Panthers haven't been the same since Nelson's injury. They hovered around the .500 mark through the first half of the season.
After its 0-4 start in Middle Border Conference baseball action this season, the Somerset baseball team was left for dead by many fans in the area. Once the Spartans got healthy, they went from sickly to sizzling. Since the 0-4 start, the Spartans went 8-2 in MBC games to climb all the way to third place in the 2012 final conference standings. The 8-6 record is the same as the Spartans had in 2011, when they advanced to the WIAA Division 2 sectional championship game. The Spartans finished their conference schedule last Thursday with a 10-0 win against Durand.
When the bats of the St. Croix Central softball team catch fire, there aren't many teams that can match the Panthers' production. Include Mondovi's softball team in that group. Mondovi pushed the Panthers for all they were worth on Monday and the Panthers answered, winning 12-11 in eight innings. Panther senior Shelby Thomley scored the game-winner. She led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a double to leftfield. Amanda Ruvelson laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Thomley to third base.
The visits from the Madagascar Hissing Cockroaches have become an annual event of mythic proportions for first-graders at the Somerset Elementary School. For one of the first grade sections, the visit led to guests that will be remembered even more fondly than the cockroaches, tarantulas and hermit crabs that are brought to the school each spring by the Bell Museum. First grade teacher Stacey Helders-Pevan contacted Kim Insley at KARE-11 TV in the Twin Cities a year ago to see if the Bell Museum visit would be worthy of coverage in the "What's Cool In Your School?" segment of the KARE-11 Sun
Their bodies were on the ballfield, but their hearts were with their teammate. The New Richmond baseball team shared the heartache felt by Tiger senior Dalton Sabby, whose father, Brian, passed away last Thursday after a long battle with cancer. The torn Tigers weren't at their sharpest in losses to Ellsworth last Friday and to Amery on Monday.
The sizeable lead the New Richmond boys golf team built up in the first half of the Middle Border Conference golf season has dwindled down to the slimmest of margins. The Tigers went into this Tuesday's MBC tournament with a one-stroke lead. Osceola has been charging hard to catch the Tigers. The pressure will be on the Tigers at the conference meet, because Osceola will be playing on its home course, Krooked Kreek Golf Course. The Tigers didn't play badly in last Friday's MBC match at Amery, but their fourth place finish put them in a major bind. Osceola won the match by shooting 164.
The string of one-goal Middle Border Conference games ended for the New Richmond girls soccer team last week. The Tigers snapped the string with their biggest offensive night of the season, rolling past Baldwin-Woodville 5-0 on the Tigers' home field last Tuesday. Unfortunately, the Tigers suffered their first loss that wasn't a one-goal margin two days later. The Tigers suffered their first multi-goal MBC loss of the season on Thursday when they went to Superior and suffered a 3-1 defeat. Last week's games left the Tigers directly in the middle of the MBC standings.
New Richmond and Osceola are two programs that have risen from the bottom of the Middle Border Conference softball ranks to be upper tier teams this season. It was fitting that those teams clashed in the final round of MBC play Monday night. New Richmond had a big fourth inning, scoring six runs. But Osceola had the final word, scoring seven times in the sixth inning to beat the Tigers 8-7. New Richmond finishes the 2012 MBC season with a 9-5 record, a major advancement from last season when the Tigers finished seventh in the conference. The Tigers struck first in Monday's game.