Softball Around the Horn: Conference update

Prescott stands atop MBC, with Ellsworth ½ game behind

By Joe Peine
Posted 5/8/24

The Prescott Cardinals won two games at home this week, beating the Osceola Chieftains on Tuesday 4-2 and then defeating the Baldwin-Woodville Blackhawks 7-2.

The conference schedule over the …

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Softball Around the Horn: Conference update

Prescott stands atop MBC, with Ellsworth ½ game behind


The Prescott Cardinals won two games at home this week, beating the Osceola Chieftains on Tuesday 4-2 and then defeating the Baldwin-Woodville Blackhawks 7-2.

The conference schedule over the last couple weeks has been a bit odd, with two split series versus Osceola and Baldwin being intermingled, but it’s worked out for Prescott as they’ve won three of the four so far.

The scoring on Tuesday came in bunches for both teams when the Cardinals hosted the Chieftains.

The third inning was the big one for the home team, and Lydia Feran got things going drawing a 5-pitch walk. Kelsey Sterud laid down a bunt single to put two on, and an error put both of them in scoring position for Rory Zuehlsdorf, who hit a two-run single to right field. Jeanne Rohl also singled, advancing Zuehlsdorf to third and Megan Richter got the sacrifice RBI across four pitches later as Prescott jumped out to a 3-0 lead after three innings.

Prescott would get a fourth run across in the fifth on back-to-back singles by Sterud and Zuehlsdorf, and that would be enough to hold the line as the Cardinals cruised to a 4-2 victory.

Ella Stewart pitched another gem for the red birds, going seven innings, allowing just two runs on four hits and two walks while striking out nine.

Game two was a close game, going back-and-forth for the first 4.5 innings until Prescott blew it wide open in the bottom of the fifth.

The Blackhawks got on the board first, scoring one run in the top of the first inning. Prescott promptly tied it up after a wide array of outcomes at the dish including a fly out, a hit by pitch, a single, a strikeout, a reached base on an error, and a walk finally pushing the runner across as Prescott took a short-lived 1-0 lead.

The 1-1 tie lasted until the bottom of the fourth inning when, with two outs, Cadyn Hillebrand walked and Stewart reached on an error. Sterud quickly turned a 1-1 count into a single, scoring Hillebrand and taking a 2-1 lead into the fifth inning where Baldwin would tie it up once again.

At that point, the Cardinals got the big inning they were looking for.

Things got going when Rohl got a one-out single and Richter reached on an error that sent Rohl to third. Maria Mercord walked to load the bases for Gabbi Matzek, who also reached on an error that also scored Rohl and Richter. Back-to-back singles by Hillebrand and Stewart followed, scoring Mercord and courtesy runner Feran. The final run of the inning came on a sacrifice by Sterud, scoring Hillebrand as Prescott jumped out to a 7-2 lead that would hold until the end.

Stewart pitched a second consecutive two-run complete game in this one, allowing one earned run on eight hits with no walks and tallying eight strikeouts.

Prescott has been on an absolute tear lately, winning seven Middle Border games in a row, taking first place in the conference with a 9-2 record, just a half game ahead of Somerset and Ellsworth who have the same 9-3 record.

With the final week of conference play upon us, these final games will determine the champion, and wouldn’t you know it, the Cardinals’ final two games are against the second-place Panthers. This final split series begins on Tuesday in Ellsworth and finishes on Thursday in Prescott. First pitch for both games is at 5 p.m.

Prescott has four non-conference games scheduled still as well, the first of which comes as their final tilt of the week on Friday at home versus River Falls at 4:30 p.m.


The Ellsworth Panthers went 2-1 over three conference games last week, first defeating the Osceola Chieftains 17-1 on Monday and then splitting a doubleheader with the Altoona Raidroaders on Tuesday, winning 3-1 in game one and losing 3-1 in game two.

While the Panthers would’ve liked to go 3-0 against the sixth-place Railroaders and seventh-place Chieftains, 2-1 keeps them in a tie for second place with Somerset.

At 17-1, Ellsworth’s victory over Osceola was swift. They put up five in the first inning, seven in the third and five more over the final two innings of the truncated game.

The Panthers went with sort of a bullpen game with Aliza Acker, Madi Peterson and EmmaJo Meier sharing the pitching duties about equally. Acker also had a good day at the plate, going 2-3 with a double, two runs scored and a stolen base, but the top performer on the day was Delaney Johnson, who went 2-3 with a homerun, two runs scored and three RBI.

The next two games were more competitive to say the least.

Ellsworth got on the board first in game one of Tuesday's doubleheader when Aaliyah Huppert singled and scored all the way from first base when Morgan Kolodzienski doubled to center field as the Panthers took a 1-0 lead.

They added on two more in the fourth when back-to-back walks to Huppert and Kolodzienski put two on for Molly Janke, who laid down the sacrifice bunt to get them into scoring position. Josie Pechacek got the RBI with one out, putting the ball in play and scoring Huppert. Finally, Audrey Wittenburg singled and scored Brooke Olson who was pinch running for Kolodzienski, and Ellsworth grabbed a commanding 3-0 lead going into the final inning and a half of play.

Altoona would put up one of their own in the bottom of the frame, but that’s all they would get, with the final score after five innings being 3-1.

Acker pitched a complete game, needing just 66 pitches to get through five frames. She allowed four hits and one run with zero walks and five strikeouts.

Game two was also a mirror image of game one as Altoona put up two runs in the second and one in the third to take a 3-0 lead. Ellsworth put up one run in the bottom of that inning to make it 3-1, and that’s where things would end after five innings.

Peterson was not charged with the three runs in this one as they occurred on the back of three errors by the Panthers, which was the difference in this game. Acker pitched the final two innings in relief and allowed just two hits over that span.

Currently, the Panthers and Somerset share the same 9-3 record in second place in the conference with Prescott just a half game up at 9-2. Middle Border teams are entering their final slate of games in the conference season this week, and Ellsworth will be pitted against their Highway 10 rivals in a pair of games with the conference championship on the line. The most important series of the year for both teams begins with an away game on Tuesday at 5 p.m. and then finally comes to a head on Thursday at home at 4:30 p.m.

The Panthers will also play in a triangular this weekend at home when Colfax and St. Croix Falls come to town on Saturday. The first game of that round of play is at 9:30 a.m. with their second game coming at 1:30 p.m.

River Falls

The River Falls Wildcats went 1-1 in conference games last week, defeating Rice Lake at home on Tuesday 6-4 and losing to them on the road on Friday 6-5.

After scuffling to a 1-7 start overall this season, the Wildcats have picked it up lately, going 5-4 since then.

River Falls scored first in their win on Tuesday, getting out to a 1-0 lead after one inning of play. Jordan Torrez’s double got things going for the home team, which was followed up by Jordan Schwantz getting hit by a pitch and Jorgia Bengtson drawing a walk to load the bases. The inning would end on back-to-back K’s by Rice Lake’s starting pitcher, but not before Torrez scored on a wild pitch to cash in on their opponents’ mistakes.

The Wildcats put up two more in the bottom of the third when Lily Burke reached on an error and a Schwantz double advanced her to third with just one out. Bengtson came in clutch, singling on a liner to right field, scoring both baserunners. Again, back-to-back K’s ended the threat, but not before River Falls grabbed a 3-0 lead.

That advantage increased to 6-0 after the fourth inning. Morgan Kivel and Ava Larsen both singled which had two on and two out for Torrez who did it again, doubling to left field and scoring Kivel while advancing Larsen to third. Then Schwantz got on base for a third time, reaching on an error after putting the ball in play and scoring both Torrez and Larsen to make it a six-run lead.

Rice Lake would put up one run in the fifth and three in the sixth, but it wouldn’t be enough as River Falls took game one of the split series.

Audra Adermann pitched 6 1/3 innings, gave up four runs on 10 hits and a whopping seven walks while striking out just one.

Game two existed in three different phases.

River Falls tacked on one run in each of the first three innings while Rice Lake put up five over the same period. Then both teams tightened up, and the scoring ended until a wild seventh inning saw the Wildcats both tying it up and watching the game slip away.

Down 5-3 coming into their last half inning of play, Schwantz got a hold of one and took a 2-2 pitch deep, homering to center field. Alexis Ralston and Kivel each singled bringing Dani Poellinger to the plate with two on and two out with the Wildcats down to their last out. After working the pitcher into a 2-2 count, Kivel and Bengtson executed the rare double steal, with Bengtson stealing home in the process to tie the game at 5-all with just a half inning of play left before extras.

Poellinger, who had taken over in relief after Adermann’s rough couple innings to open the game saw her pitch count at 68 after just two innings of play, sat the first two down in order, but a double and an error ended the game in unceremonious fashion for the Wildcats with a final score of 6-5.

Tuesday marked River Falls’ first conference win of the season, and they now sit in seventh place with a 1-9 record in the Big Rivers, albeit with a 5-2 non-conference record.

They will look to continue putting W’s up this week with a pair of games against BRC rival Eau Claire Memorial starting on the road on Tuesday and continuing at home on Thursday, with both games having a first pitch time of 5 p.m. They will also play a pair of non-conference away games when they travel to Hammond to play St. Croix Central at 11 a.m. Saturday, and then continue over to Baldwin-Woodville to play the Blackhawks at 1:30 p.m.

Spring Valley vs. EPC

The Spring Valley Cardinals defeated the Elmwood-Plum City Wolves 11-3 on Monday in Spring Valley.

For a game that ended in a Cardinals’ blowout, EPC had the lead after the first two innings of play.

The Wolves came out hot as leadoff batter Brittany Bechel turned a 3-2 pitch into a triple to left field. Hannah Fesenmaier did her job in the following at bat, putting the ball in play and scoring Bechel from third.

That would do it for the scoring until the top of the third when Spring Valley plated two after opening the inning with back-to-back singles by Olivia Schlegel and Danika Schmitt that put runners on first and third. Like Fesenmaier, Evah Butts did what the Cardinals needed her to do by putting the ball in play and scoring the runner from third. Zoe Larson and Maddie Shafer both walked to load the bases, pushing Schmitt to third who scored after stealing home as the Cardinals grabbed a 2-1 lead.

EPC got one back in the bottom of the frame after Bechel reached again, this time singling and stealing second, and Fesenmaier walked putting two on with one out for the red birds. Riley Ginsbach singled to load the bases for pitcher Britta Link who singled to tie the game at 2-all after three innings of play.

Likewise, each team scored again in the fourth, putting up one run a piece and sending the 3-3 tie game into the fifth inning. It was a slow bleed for Spring Valley from there as they scored one in the fifth and another in the sixth to make it 5-3. However, the top of the seventh is when the wheels really came off for EPC.

Shafer and Reese Vivoda walked to open the frame, and a triple by Pride Beyer cleared the bases, plating two. Amariah Klein singled her in from third, Schlegel walked and Schmitt doubled to score the lead runner, leaving Schlegel at third. She would come in on a Butts single.

Spring Valley would load the bases again before it was all over, but that was the end of the scoring as they pushed six runs across to take an 11-3 lead that would become the final score.

Link pitched six-plus innings for the Wolves but couldn’t get out of the seventh. With the big final inning, her line was nine hits, seven earned runs, eight walks and three strikeouts.

Meanwhile, Shafer pitched a complete game for the Cardinals, giving up eight hits, two walks, three runs and garnering eight punchouts.

Elmwood-Plum City didn’t have much better luck as the week progressed, dropping Tuesday’s home game 11-3 to Glenwood City and Thursday’s away game in an 8-7 heartbreaker to Durand-Arkansaw. They currently sit at eighth in the conference with a 1-10 record, but they will have two opportunities to get wins this week when they take on Mondovi on Monday at home and a road game in Colfax on Thursday, both at 5 p.m.

Spring Valley finished at 1-1 on the week, winning this game but losing 14-3 on Friday in Colfax. They currently sit in seventh place in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference with 2-9 record (4-10 overall), but they also get multiple chances for conference wins this week when they host Glenwood City on Monday and travel to Durand-Arkansaw on Thursday for a pair of games starting at 5 p.m. They will also play a single non-conference game this weekend when they travel to Alma-Pepin for a game at 11 a.m. Saturday.

Prescott Cardinals, Ellsworth Panthers, River Falls Wildcats, Spring Valley Cardinals, EPC Wolves, girls softball