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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Confidence was running high when the New Richmond baseball team went to Prescott last Friday. Perhaps too high. The Tigers went into the game unbeaten, but they didn't come out of the game that way. Sloppy defense and inattentive baserunning stung the Tigers in a 10-5 loss to the Cardinals. The result of that game left both of those teams tied with 2-1 records in the Middle Border Conference.
The first chance to compete in an outdoor track event for the New Richmond track teams came last Thursday in a triangular meet in Menomonie. This meet has become a tradition for the Tigers and that's not likely to change. The coaches love the opportunity it presents, to get all their athletes the chance to compete in a full slate of events. It was quite a productive meet for the Tigers in that sense, but it was just as productive in the final results. The Tigers won both halves of the meet, over Menomonie and Sparta.
The Somerset baseball squad stands alone at the top of the Middle Border Conference, after a week where the Spartans blistered the ball against two of their biggest MBC rivals. The Spartans started the week with an 11-1 romp at Prescott where the Spartans bashed out 18 hits. The Spartans ended the week with a 16-4 mashing of Ellsworth. With those wins the Spartans stand at 3-0, the only unbeaten team this early in conference play. Spartan coach Brandon Kadlec was quick to squelch any possibility of overconfidence. "It's a marathon, not a sprint," he said of the conference race.
The New Richmond softball team has been one big hit away from winning its last two Middle Border Conference games. On Monday, the Tigers got that hit. Taylor Singleton hit a bases-loaded triple that was part of a five-run fifth inning that carried the Tigers past Somerset 6-4. This was the Tigers' first win of the 2011 season. In the Tigers' previous two MBC games, they weren't far from winning. They lost to Durand 3-2 and to Prescott 9-6. Monday's game with Somerset seemed different for the Tigers. Somerset scored first (in the third inning), but the Tigers stayed cool.
The New Richmond girls soccer team was able to win one of its three games over the past week. With three goals in those three games, the Tigers are looking to find ways to be more productive offensively. The Tigers were able to win at Osceola last Tuesday, 2-0. They then made the long trip to Superior last Thursday, where they lost 1-0. The Tigers were home on Monday, where they lost to Hayward 2-1. Hayward is currently the only Middle Border Conference team without a loss in MBC action. In the win at Osceola, the Tiger offense didn't get rolling until late in the game.
The Middle Border Conference boys golf race looks like another contest to see if any team can catch the Osceola Chieftains. Osceola won the 2010 MBC championship by one team point over New Richmond and Somerset last year in one of the closest MBC golf races ever. Osceola comes back this season stronger than ever, while New Richmond and Somerset are doing their best to keep pace with the Chieftains. Osceola is paced by defending WIAA Division 2 individual champion Charlie Danielson.
The New Richmond boys tennis team went into last Tuesday's dual match with River Falls in a bit of a scrambled situation. Three of the Tigers attended the state FBLA convention on Tuesday and literally stepped from their car and onto the tennis courts for the match. Several more Tigers were playing in new roles.
After the graduation of their leading scorers from last season, there were some offensive growing pains expected for the Somerset girls soccer team this season. Those pains showed up in the Spartans' four games that began the season over the past week. The Spartans earned one win in those four games, ringing up five goals in a win over Baldwin-Woodville. The other three games were against more advanced opponents and the Spartans were held scoreless in those three losses. The Spartans now have eight days between games, with their next game at Barron next Tuesday.
The Hudson True Team track meet is an excellent test for the Somerset track teams every year. The Spartans are the smallest school to compete in the meet, competing against teams like Hudson, Eau Claire North and Hill-Murray. The Spartans don't go into the meet with the mindset of winning any team titles. They do enter the meet looking to test themselves to see how they stack up in each event. The Spartan boys placed sixth among the eight teams in the meet and Somerset's girls placed seventh.
One big inning was the heart of the issue for the Somerset softball team in three losses in Middle Border Conference games over the past week. The Spartans lost to Prescott, Ellsworth and New Richmond in that span. This Thursday the Spartans will try to right the ship in a home game against Amery. The Spartans will also be at home next Tuesday, when MBC leader Baldwin-Woodville visits. On Monday the Spartans suffered a 6-4 loss at New Richmond. New Richmond took the lead with a five-run fifth inning. The Spartans didn't give up. They battled back to score three runs in the sixth inning.