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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In its Middle Border Conference opener the New Richmond boys tennis team looked like one of the teams that should be favored in the conference this season. Ellsworth stacked its best players in the singles lineup, but New Richmond was still able to score a 6-1 win in the MBC opening match last Thursday. Kyle Mitchell moved up to one singles with this match and he earned a victory. He had a tough opening set with Willie Lutz, winning in a tie-breaker.
There's no way the Somerset softball team could have seen this one coming. On Monday the Spartans went to Ellsworth, hoping to improve on their 5-1 record. Instead, Ellsworth struck for eight runs in the first inning, from which the Spartans could never recover. Ellsworth rolled to an 11-5 win in the game. The Spartans had scored three runs in the top of the first inning, but the huge Ellsworth rally seemed to stun the Spartans.
Once they finally got into an outdoor meet, the New Richmond track teams took second place in both the boys and girls halves of the meet, when they competed in the Husky Invitational at Eau Claire North last Thursday. New Richmond's boys locked into an excellent battle with Menomonie. The Indians were able to edge the Tigers for the meet title, based largely on a slight edge in the field events. The balance shown by the Tiger boys was something to behold. They placed in every event and they placed in the top five in every event except the shot put. The balance is matched by depth.
The St. Croix Central baseball team reached a crossroads last Friday at Luck. The Panthers blew an early 7-2 lead at Luck and that was all Panther coach Mike Fern could take. Fern had a long, animated talk with the team about the opportunities the team is missing. The Panthers appeared to get the message. They played an excellent team game on Monday, when they pounded Spring Valley 15-7. Monday's game was the offensive outburst the Panthers have been needing. They raked Spring Valley pitchers for 17 hits. Michael Tilton led the charge with four hits, including three doubles.
After winning the Middle Border Conference title in 2006, the New Richmond girls softball team picked up right where it left off. The Tigers started their MBC season on Monday by beating Prescott 11-4. This is the 15th straight win for the Tigers in conference play. There were two postponements last week, so the Tigers were the last of the MBC teams to get their season started. It took the Tigers a few innings to get rolling against Prescott. After scoring once in the first three innings, the Tigers decisively put the game away.
It's not necessarily as easy as 1-2-3. The Somerset girls soccer team has started its second season as a varsity program with a 1-2-3 record. The last two Spartan games ended in ties, including a 3-3 tie with the River Falls JV team on Monday. In Monday's game the Spartans had to overcome an early 2-0 lead by River Falls. After Somerset controlled play in the early minutes of the game, River Falls scored on its first two shots of the game. The Spartans gradually worked their way back into the game.
For the first time the New Richmond boys tennis team won the championship in the La Crosse Central Invitational on Saturday. The Tigers won all three of their matches in the tournament, beating Menomonie, Central and Black River Falls. The championship is based on overall wins in the tournament. New Richmond finished with 17 wins. They were followed by Menomonie with 15, Central with nine and Black River Falls with one. The toughest battle for the Tigers came in the opening round against Menomonie.
The Somerset softball team made an early claim as one of the top teams in the Middle Border Conference this season. The Spartans got out to a 3-0 start in the MBC, which included a 14-6 win at Durand on Monday. The hits have been coming by the truckload for the Spartans. In their three conference games, the Spartans have averaged 18 hits a game. That includes a 19-hit rampage at Durand on Monday. You'd be hard pressed to find anyone hitting with more authority than Somerset senior Elysa Putz. She led off Monday's game with a triple and scored on a wild pitch.
The new spring baseball team got a lesson from one of the premier spring programs in the area last Friday. Somerset is new to spring baseball after being a long-time summer baseball program. The Spartans played their first game in the Middle Border Conference for spring baseball last Friday. The opponent was Prescott, which has been one of the most successful spring programs in western Wisconsin for many years.
A tough dose of reality was served up to the New Richmond girls soccer team on Monday. The Tigers were held without a shot on goal as they were thoroughly beaten by Hudson's varsity team, 5-0. Four starters were missing from the Tiger lineup and that meant inexperienced freshmen had to step into their roles. Facing one of the tougher soccer programs in the area made this a one-sided matching.