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 New Richmond softball team isn't used to losing. You can imagine the shockwaves that ran through the minds of the Tigers following their 19-1 loss on Monday to Amery. This was the final regular season game for the Tigers. They begin WIAA Division 2 tournament play on Tuesday at 4 p.m., with a home game against Somerset. The winner of Thursday's game will play in the second round of regionals next Tuesday. The Tigers will need to regroup quickly for the tournament season after the crushing loss administered by Amery.
The Dunn-St. Croix Conference softball championship has long been a battle between Pepin, Elmwood and Spring Valley, with few interlopers able to break through that triumvirate at the top of the conference. That has all changed this year. The St. Croix Central softball team has climbed to the top of the D-SC in 2009. The Panthers finished off their D-SC championship with an 11-0 win at Boyceville on Monday.
Heading into Tuesday's Middle Border Conference boys golf championships, the New Richmond boys had a bit of breathing room after a pair of critical wins last week. Last Tuesday the Tigers made their move, winning a 12-team MBC match played at Ellsworth. The Tigers handled the windy conditions much better than any of the other MBC teams. The Tigers shot a 162, which was 10 strokes better than any other team. Osceola, which had been tied with the Tigers in the overall conference standings, shot a 172. Somerset also shot a 172, tying for second place.
The New Richmond baseball team hasn't been doing much hitting during their games lately. So after Monday's 5-1 loss to Ellsworth, the Tigers did their hitting after the game. Tiger coach John Ball kept the Tigers after the game for a couple hours to work on the team's hitting struggles The loss Monday knocks the Tigers out of their tie for the Middle Border Conference lead, which they'd shared with Prescott and Baldwin-Woodville entering the night The loss came on the heels of a 2-1 loss to Somerset last Friday. In Monday's loss, the Tigers popped up the ball time after time.
The New Richmond Millers believe they've broken their curse. The New Richmond adult baseball team beat one of the best teams in western Wisconsin on Sunday and they had to pump life into a ninth inning rally to do it. The Millers rallied for four runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat Exeland, 5-4. That came on the heels of the Millers' season-opening 16-12 win over UW-Barron County on Saturday. When the Millers were facing Exeland on Sunday they were facing an independent team that plays teams all over the northern half of the state.
With a lineup that is half juniors and half sophomores, the New Richmond varsity baseball team wasn't necessarily viewed as a contender for the Middle Border Conference title at the start of the season. The Tigers had proven that they are certainly ready to be a contending team. They started this week tied for the MBC lead, with an 8-2 record. Prescott has an identical conference mark. New Richmond and Prescott were scheduled to play on Tuesday. The Tigers play at Somerset on Friday, where the Spartans pitching will provide a good test for them.
New Richmond softball coach Becky Ahlbrecht couldn't yell. So assistant coach Kevin Lagerstrom did. The Tigers had fallen behind Somerset 2-1 in the fourth inning of Monday's Middle Border Conference game. Lagerstrom then stepped into the Tiger dugout. Lagerstrom is usually soft-spoken. He felt compelled to bark at the Tigers, asking if the girls sincerely wanted to win Monday's game. The players answered with their actions and those actions spoke volumes. The Tigers crushed the ball, scoring 15 runs in the fifth inning.
As one of the smaller schools in the New Richmond Relays, the Somerset track teams have rarely considered themselves as contenders for the team championship in this meet. This year, the Spartan girls knew they could be a contender for the title. And they came through with an outstanding team performance that earned them the 2009 New Richmond Relays championship by one point over Hudson. Where the Spartans were good, they weren't just good. They were spectacular.
For most of this season the Somerset softball team has played competitive ball, staying right with most of the best teams in the Middle Border Conference. The lack of offensive production is beginning to wear on the Spartans. They lost five games over the past week. In each of those five losses, the Spartans weren't able to score more than three runs. "We're not going to win games scoring three runs," said first year Spartan coach Carrie Kjellberg.
Chalk up another championship for the New Richmond boys track team. The Tigers went to Ellsworth on Friday and captured the championship in the 2009 Ellsworth Invitational. This one was not even close. The Tigers finished the meet with 169 points. Ellsworth and Osceola tied for second place with 102 points each. New Richmond's girls took third place in their half of the meet. Ellsworth took the girls title with 144 points, four points ahead of Osceola. New Richmond was third with 115 points. This meet was a good indicator for the Middle Border Conference Meet on May 19 at Amery.