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 Middle Border Conference boys golf contenders have been upping the pressure, but the New Richmond boys have been matching the improvements made by the other MBC teams. The Tigers maintained a six-point lead in the MBC standings after taking second place in one match and second in another match played last week. In last Tuesday's MBC round played at Bristol Ridge Golf Club in Somerset, the Tigers were defeated for the first time in the conference season.
The roll the New Richmond baseball team has been riding was brought to an end by one of the top-ranked teams in the state last Friday. The Tigers won four straight games before taking on Middle Border Conference leader Prescott last Friday. Prescott is ranked third in the state in Division 3 and Friday's 14-4 win raised the Cardinals overall record to 14-1. Prescott leads the MBC with a 10-0 record. Friday's loss leaves the Tigers in third place in the standings with a 6-4 record. It was a positive start for the Tigers at Prescott.
All three of the New Richmond boys tennis team's matches against the other top Middle Border Conference contenders have finished in 4-3 scores, but the Tigers came out on the losing end of all three. Last week the Tigers faced the two leaders in the MBC standings, Baldwin-Woodville and Eau Claire Regis. Both meets ended in 4-3 losses for the Tigers, just as the Tigers' match against Amery had ended the previous week. The match against Regis may have been the Tigers' best overall team performance thus far.
The red-hot New Richmond softball squad continues to rise up the Middle Border Conference standings. The Tigers are 7-1 in their past eight MBC games after conference wins over Prescott and Somerset last week. The win over Prescott was a rare slugging battle, with the Tigers pounding out a 14-9 win. Pitching and defense were the overriding factors against Somerset on Thursday, when the Tigers earned a 4-1 win. These wins move the Tigers into a tie for third place in the MBC standings with an 8-3 record.
Victories last week at the Amery Invitational and its own invitational have the St. Croix Central boys track team thinking they are in good position to repeat as Dunn-St. Croix Conference champions. The 2012 D-SC track meet will be run next Tuesday at Boyceville, beginning at 3:30 p.m. "The goal for the boys is to win it again," said Central co-coach Amanda Webb. "I think we have a really good shot at it." The prospects aren't quite so clear cut for the Panther girls. Webb said there are several teams who go into the D-SC meet quite evenly matched in the battle for the girls title.
The competitive fire hasn't gone out for the winless Somerset girls soccer team. The Spartans find ways to be competitive in nearly every game, but they haven't found a way to come out on the winning end yet. Last Tuesday's game against Middle Border Conference leader Hayward is a prime example. The Spartans put up an excellent fight for much of the game.
Having a well-drained home field was a huge benefit for the St. Croix Central baseball team this week. The Panthers got two extra home games when their opponents' home fields were unplayable due to the recent heavy rains. The Panthers were able to win both of those games. The first of those came last Friday when the Panthers held on for an 8-7 win over Colfax. The second was on Monday, when the Panthers won on the 10-run rule for the first time this season, in a 14-1 win over Glenwood City. The two wins helped the Panthers reach the .500 level in the Dunn-St.
The St. Croix Central softball team badly needed a spark. Lightning may have delivered it on Saturday. The Panthers were a team desperately in need of something that would turn around their fortunes. Six runs in the final two innings in their game on Saturday against Somerset was just what the team needed. Those runs tied the game at 6-6. The game went into extra innings, but lightning strikes soon forced the umpires to call the game as a tie in the eighth inning. The tie put a halt to the Panthers' six-game losing streak.
The Milwaukee Brewers went through a stretch last week where they had a player injured in every game for almost a week straight.
Anyone wanting to gauge how well the Somerset baseball team is playing simply needs to look at the Spartans' games against the top two Middle Border Conference teams last week. The Spartans gave undefeated MBC leader Prescott its toughest game of the season last Tuesday, losing to the Cardinals 2-1. Second place Ellsworth wasn't so fortunate. The Spartans delivered Ellsworth's second loss of the MBC season last Friday, beating the Panthers 5-3. After being weighed down by a bevy of injuries early in the season, the Spartans have hit their stride.