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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A little confidence has gone a long way for the St. Croix Central baseball team. The Panthers started the season with a new coach and a shortage of varsity experience, so nobody was sure how long it would take them to get up to speed. It took four games. After the four opening losses, the Panthers have now reeled off three straight wins. That streak started last Thursday when the Panthers defeated Osceola 5-3. On Friday the Panthers and Spring Valley waged an offensive showdown, but the Panthers prevailed 12-11.
How many athletes get the chance to compete in the Olympics? Alpine skier Meghan Erickson is working toward that dream. Erickson is hoping to be part of the United States team that skis in the 2014 Winter Paralympic Games in Sochi, Russia. The Paralympics are held at the site of the Olympics, two weeks after the completion of the Olympics. Erickson, a sophomore at Somerset High School, has been competing nationally in alpine skiing since she was 10 years old. Now 16, Erickson just completed her 2011-12 season by skiing in the U.S. Adaptive Alpine Speed Nationals as a member of the U.S.
When the New Richmond baseball team graduated its entire starting lineup at the end of last season, it was taken for granted that there'd be some growing pains for the 2012 Tigers. There's only a smattering of varsity experience among this season's team and it showed as the Tigers were limited to three hits and one run in their first two games. In the Tigers' season opener last Thursday, they were limited to one hit in a 4-1 loss to Baldwin-Woodville.
If playing competitively for much of the game against the defending WIAA state runner-up is a positive sign, the 2012 season opener for the New Richmond girls softball team was a step in the right direction. After three innings, the Tigers trailed Baldwin-Woodville 2-0. The Blackhawks scored three runs in the fourth inning and five more in the fifth inning to beat the Tigers 10-0 on the 10-run rule. The Tigers fielded a young team in the opener, with two seniors and one junior in the starting lineup.
The golfers should have known it was coming. After one of the mildest springs on record, the first golf meet of the 2012 spring brought horrific conditions that challenged the heartiest souls at the Hudson Invitational on Monday. New Richmond, Somerset and St. Croix Central played in the traditional season opener at Troy Burne Golf Club. This was the first year that the invitational was divided into two divisions. New Richmond placed eighth among the 12 teams in the large school division. This is one of the least experienced varsity lineups New Richmond has fielded in many years.
The timing of spring break in New Richmond was not helpful for the Tiger girls soccer team. With several of their leading scorers out of town for spring break, the Tigers have struggled in the offensive half of the field. After being shutout in their first four games of the season, the Tigers got their first goal last Thursday in a 1-1 tie against Baldwin-Woodville. The tie leaves the Tigers with a 0-2-1 record in Middle Border Conference games. Two days before the tie, the Tigers put up a spirited battle against defending MBC champion Hayward, but lost 1-0.
The lack of varsity experience on the 2012 New Richmond boys tennis team showed immediately and quite clearly in the Tigers' opening weekend of matches. The Tigers opened their season with a home match against Menomonie last Thursday. The Tigers won the top three flights of singles, where they had experienced players returning, but couldn't win any other flights in a 4-3 loss to the Mustangs. On Saturday the Tigers played in a tournament at Eau Claire Memorial. In most years the competition in this tournament is pretty steep for the Tigers.
After scoring 35 runs on the first day of the season, the Somerset baseball team had significantly more trouble scoring runs in its two games last week. The Spartans got roughed up by Grantsburg in a non-conference game last Tuesday, 18-3. The Spartans went to Osceola last Thursday and lost their Middle Border Conference opener 5-0. In the opening games of the season the Spartans swept a double-header from Plum City, 11-0 and 24-0. The competition was much steeper last week. Somerset coach Brandon Kadlec said injuries and illness have decimated the Spartans.
This is new territory for the Somerset softball team. After going through several coaching changes in recent years, the Spartans have found stability under coach Cory Lindenberg, who is in his second year leading the team. The Spartans looked like a stable, mature team in winning their 2012 season opener at Osceola last Thursday, 6-1. At nearly every position the Spartans have a player with varsity experience.
Rebuilding the team's defense wasn't something the Somerset girls soccer coaches expected to be doing two weeks into the 2012 season. With several of the team's most experienced players out of the lineup, the Spartans were busy making changes and trying to learn new positions. That was the main reason the Spartans lost 7-0 at Superior last Thursday, dropping their season record to 0-4. The Spartans had their best chance for a win last Tuesday when they were visited by the Baldwin-Woodville girls. The Spartans scored 10 minutes into the game after starting the game with great intensity.