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 WIAA playoffs open up for the Somerset softball team this Thursday, when the Spartans play at Baldwin-Woodville. The Spartans finished the regular season last Thursday in an 8-3 loss to Amery. Somerset finishes the Middle Border Conference season with a 4-10 record, tying New Richmond and Durand for sixth place in the conference standings. The Spartans are taking a positive attitude into the WIAA tournament. They are the seventh seed in the regional bracket and Baldwin-Woodville is the second seed.
There's a difference in the level of soccer played between New Richmond's Middle Border Conference and the Big Rivers Conference. The BRC contains the Division 1 schools the Tigers will play when they step into the WIAA playoffs next week. Tiger coach Charles Conley argues that the difference between the two conferences isn't as big as his players have let it become. In the MBC the Tigers started the week with a 10-3-1 record. That includes a 3-1 win over Baldwin-Woodville last Thursday. On Friday the Tigers hosted Hudson from the BRC.
If you believe in "signature wins," that's what the Somerset girls soccer team may have accomplished last Tuesday at Amery. The Spartans went to Amery and knocked off the Warriors 2-1 in overtime. Amery was one of the first teams in the Middle Border Conference to establish girls soccer as a varsity sport and the Warriors have been one of the premier programs in the conference since then. For the young Spartans, under first year coach Erin Wilson, this has been a season of discovery.
Both St. Croix Central track teams had outstanding days in the running events, but they couldn't match the points scored by the winning teams in the field events during the 2010 Dunn-St. Croix Conference Track Meet. The 2010 D-SC meet was conducted last Tuesday at the Colfax High School track complex. Central's boys ended up taking third in the conference meet while the girls team earned a fourth place finish among the eight teams entered. Between the two Panther teams, they were able to amass five conference event championships. Junior Brett Johnson was a double champion.
Hitting hasn't come easily for the St. Croix Central baseball team. Last week the Panthers seemed to find their hitting stroke and they hope to carry it a distance into the WIAA playoffs. The Panthers are the third seed in the WIAA Division 3 region after the tournament bracket was seeded last Wednesday. The Panthers open regional tournament action on Friday, playing at home against Ladysmith, which drew the sixth seed. That game will start at 4 p.m. The winner of that game will play again next Tuesday, at Boyceville. Last week the Panthers went 3-0 and scored 49 runs in the three wins.
The New Richmond softball team will open WIAA Division 2 tournament play this Thursday when the Tigers play at Amery at 4:30 p.m. The Tigers are the sixth seed in the regional bracket while Amery is the third seed. The winner of Thursday's game will advance to the second round of regionals next Tuesday, to face the winner of Thursday's game between Baldwin-Woodville and Somerset. The Tigers fell to 5-17 for the season with four losses in three days late last week. The final home game for the Tigers was played last Thursday against River Falls.
"When you're hot, you're hot. When you're not, you're not." You might not remember that 1971 chart-topping country song by Jerry Reed, but it is a perfect description of how the New Richmond Millers have played this season. The Millers went from hot to cold during the span of a five days last week, in which they played four games. The Millers raked Menomonie's pitching for 22 hits and 19 runs in a historic win last Wednesday. That was followed by a win over Haugen and a painful 2-1 loss at Osceola.
Monday's game was either win or write off the Middle Border Conference championship for the New Richmond baseball team. The Tigers answered that challenge with perhaps their best performance of the season, winning at Ellsworth on Monday, 4-3 in eight innings. This left New Richmond and Ellsworth tied at the top of the MBC standings. New Richmond was scheduled to play at Prescott on Tuesday, then finish their MBC schedule with a game at Amery on Thursday. Monday's game was knotted at 1-1 after seven innings. The Tigers were able to make things happen in the top of the eighth inning.
The St. Croix Central girls needed some seventh inning heroics to pull out a 4-2 softball win at Pepin on Monday. The win assures the Panthers a share of the 2010 Dunn-St. Croix Conference championship. With four games still remaining on the Panthers' schedule, they have plenty of opportunities to lock up the outright title. They were scheduled to play at Glenwood City on Tuesday and host Boyceville on Thursday.
With its outstanding performance in the 3-2 win over New Richmond last Friday, the Somerset baseball team played its way back into the Middle Border Conference pennant race. The Spartans may have played their way back out of the race on Monday, flopping badly in an 8-3 homefield loss to Amery. Somerset picked a poor time to play badly. With New Richmond knocking off Ellsworth on Monday, a win Monday would have moved the Spartans into a tie for the conference lead. Now the Spartans will need help to get a share of the conference title. The Spartans have three MBC games remaining.