Some of the top Middle Border Conference softball teams are edging past the Somerset girls early this season, but the Spartans are hoping that changes in the second round of MBC games.
The Spartans lost at Baldwin-Woodville 3-2 on Monday. The Spartans didn't score until the seventh inning when Roxanne Ring ripped a two-run triple, but the Spartans weren't able to bring Ring home with the tying run.
Baldwin-Woodville can be a challenging place to play and when the Blackhawks scored on a solo homer in the first inning and added two runs in the second, things could have gone badly for the Spartans. Instead, they shut down the Blackhawk attack the rest of the game.
"I felt we were a little intimidated," Somerset coach Paige Johnson said of the start to the game. She said holding the Hawks without a run the rest of the game "was a positive. We know we can play with them."
While the Spartans have one of the youngest lineups in the MBC, Johnson said this game, and last week's 5-4 loss against Amery, showed the Spartans are already at a competitive level in the conference.
"I feel that's a huge statement," she said, adding that she saw the team up its effort level in the seventh inning to try to overtake B-W.
"That's the team I need to show up every game," she said.
The Blackhawks got even younger on Monday, with Johnson inserting freshman Taryn Dornseif in rightfield. Johnson said Dornseif made a couple of nice defensive plays and had one of the team's hits.
All three local teams suffered losses in Middle Border Conference action last Tuesday.
The closest of the games was Somerset's battle at Amery. Amery rallied for two runs in the bottom of the seventh to defeat Somerset, 5-4.
Somerset started fast in the game. Audrey Leonard's two-run double gave Spartans the lead in the first inning. The Spartans built a 4-1 lead.
"After the third inning, we couldn't string hits together," said Somerset coach Paige Johnson. "We played a decent game, especially against a team like Amery."
The New Richmond softball team couldn't get its offense going against the high-powered Ellsworth Panthers. Ellsworth defeated the Tigers 11-0. The Tigers were limited to three hits: a double by Anna Hams and singles from Lexy Kupczak and Ali VonWald.
Ellsworth pounded the ball, hitting five extra-base hits, including two homers.
New Richmond coach Lynzi Pechacek said it was a combination of physical and mental errors that damaged the Tigers' chances.
"It wasn't our best game, but Ellsworth is a good team. We knew it would be a tough game and we would have to bring our very best. Unfortunately, we didn't bring our best that day," she said.
St. Croix Central lost a 10-1 decision against Osceola on Tuesday. The Panthers had some hitting success, led by doubles from Olivia Wasley, Emily Gatzke and Ashley Mann. It was defense that led the Panthers down in this game.
"We were pretty flat defensively," said Central coach Mike Nilssen. "We didn't make the plays when we needed to."
In action this Thursday, New Richmond plays at Baldwin-Woodville, Somerset hosts Osceola and St. Croix Central gets a visit from Ellsworth.