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Thursday Softball: Spartans advance, Central ousted in WIAA playoffs

Somerset's Georgia Hammer (16) and Roxanne Ring (13) catch a Sparta player in a rundown during Thursday's WIAA Division 2 regional playoff game. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia

The 2019 Somerset softball team lives to play another day, but the St. Croix Central softball team has seen its season come to an end in the opening round of the WIAA regional tournaments on Thursday.

New Richmond’s softball team won a non-conference game against River Falls on Thursday. The Tigers start WIAA Division 1 tournament play next Tuesday.

Somerset advanced in Division 2 regional play, winning their final home game of the season against Sparta, 12-8. Somerset will play at West Salem, the second seed in the regional bracket, next Tuesday. Somerset is the seventh seed.

St. Croix Central was the tenth seed in the Division 3 regional. The Panthers lost to Fall Creek, the seventh seed, 7-2.

Somerset win

The first inning really told the story of Somerset’s win Tuesday. The first four Sparta players in the top of the first inning singled. With one run in and the bases loaded, Somerset pitcher Roxanne retired the next three batters, on a pop fly and two strikeouts.

The Spartans have become a resilient team. In the bottom of the first they shook off the early scare and answered with four runs. MyKenzie Leccia started the inning with a walk and she moved to third when Madison Trautmiller reached on a bunt single. They both scored on a single from Georgia Hammer, the only senior on the Spartan team. Audrey Leonard reached on an error and Makenzie Weeks singled. Isabel Garcia roped a double down the rightfield line to score Leonard and Weeks, increasing the lead to 4-1.

Five more Somerset runs were added in the third inning. A double from Hammer and a triple from Ring started the inning, with RBI singles from Sophie Rivard and Taryn Dornseif completing the rally. Another run was added in the fourth on singles from Ring and Garcia.

Sparta kept the game close as both teams had some defensive struggles. Somerset added its final two runs in the fifth inning. Leccia started the inning with a triple. Trautmiller singled her home and Trautmiller scored on Ring’s second triple of the day.

Somerset has a team filled with freshmen. While they had some hiccups, there were times they didn’t look like freshmen. Ring shook off the defensive issues around her, striking out nine Sparta batters, often in key situations.

Hammer was at the key of several Spartan rallies. In her final home game, she was able to produce. While Hammer was humble about her role in the team, Somerset coach Paige Johnson sang her praises.

“She’s their go-to person,” Johnson said, referring to the young players on the team. “All the girls feed off Georgia. She is their leader.”

Hammer made the Spartan varsity as a freshman, saying the four seasons on the team have gone past incredibly fast. She pointed out several of the freshmen when talking about how the team’s confidence has grown.

“I started out as the youngest, I can see so much of what has changed in my game,” Hammer said. She said she’s seeding those changes start in her teammates. And Hammer said if those changes continue at West Salem, she thinks the Spartans can earn a win Tuesday.

St. Croix Central loss

The one bad inning that has plagued the Panthers all season showed up again in the Panthers’ season finale. The Panthers finish the season with a 4-17 record. Defensive and baserunning errors were the Panthers’ downfall.

“We had the ability to be a very dangerous team but never really got in a groove and got the wheels moving,” Central coach Mike Nilssen said of the season. “It’s going to be very tough to replace our eight seniors next year.”

Nilssen said senior pitcher Ashley Mann performed well, getting Fall Creek to hit the ball on the ground to the Panther defenders.

Olivia Wasley and Parker Chladek led the Panther offense with doubles. Zoey Page went 2-3 at the plate and Emily Gatzke and Maddy Ford each finished with one hit.

New Richmond gem

The Tigers finished the regular season with an absolute gem of a game. The Tigers won their final game by defeating River Falls, 9-0.

Tiger sophomore pitcher Leah DeYoung fired the best game of her high school career. She threw a seven inning one-hit shutout.

The Tigers scored twice in the first inning before breaking the game open with a five-run third inning.

Brooklyn Jackson and Emma Tappe each produced two hits to lead a balanced Tiger attack. They also drove home two runs each.

The Tigers received the 11th seed in the WIAA Division 1 regional tournament bracket. The Tigers will open tournament play next Tuesday, playing at 5 p.m. at Marshfield, the sixth seed.

Dave Newman

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 more than 30 years.

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