Softball Around the Horn: Featuring Prescott

By Joe Peine
Posted 4/17/24

Gabbi Matzek pitches five innings of relief on Thursday, with one earned run on six hits and one walk in Prescott's loss to Somerset on Thursday.

The Prescott Cardinals softball team played a …

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Softball Around the Horn: Featuring Prescott


Gabbi Matzek pitches five innings of relief on Thursday, with one earned run on six hits and one walk in Prescott's loss to Somerset on Thursday.

The Prescott Cardinals softball team played a split series against the Somerset Spartans this week, winning at home 6-2 and losing on the road 6-3.

Ella Stewart got the start in game one, quickly shutting down the Spartans in the top of the first inning. Her team helped her cause in the bottom of the frame, pulling out to a 1-0.

Prescott would continue to add on runs while inning after inning came and went with Stewart pitching a shutout.

Then, in the top of the fifth, an error by the red birds led to a pair of unearned runs coming across and Somerset pulled within two at 4-2. Undaunted, the Cardinals continued to add on with one more run in the bottom of the inning and two more in the bottom of the sixth.

The game finished with a complete game from Stewart, who only allowed three hits and one walk. Leah French and Kelsey Sterud were Prescott’s top performers in this one with French going 2-2 with a walk and two RBI’s and Sterud filling out the box score with a run, a hit, a walk, a steal and two RBI of her own. The Cardinals committed just the one error on the night.

Game two finished with almost the exact inverse of the previous one and with Somerset controlling throughout.

The Spartans jumped out to a big lead right away on Thursday in Somerset at 4-0 in the bottom of the opening inning, jumping all over Stewart in their second look at her in as many days. Gabbi Matzek would be called on to take the reins and work in the long relief role for Prescott from the second inning on, and she performed admirably, allowing just one earned run over the final five innings.

Somerset added on two more total, although only one was charged to Matzek as the second run was on a Cardinal error.

It was a tough outing all the way around for Prescott as they had three errors, no walks and only four hits, although they made the most of those by scoring three runs. It wasn’t enough to overcome the big first inning though, and the Cardinals fell to the Spartans 6-3.

It’s a team that Prescott knows well, and the same one that ended their pursuit of a state title last year in the sectional finals, so expectations are that the back-and-forth tug of war for these two high-powered Middle Border teams is nowhere close to being over.

Head Coach Nick Johnson says they like where they’re at, but the starting roster is going to continue to be a fluid thing.

“We still have a couple spots open. I don't think anyone is running away with those open positions because we’ve got four girls fighting for a couple of spots, so who knows how that will play out,” Johnson said. “It's also nice to have that problem. We feel we have 12 girls that can all play and give us good innings. So, we'll figure it out, and they’ll all continue to get opportunities.”

After striking out 10 times on Thursday, albeit against arguably one of the best pitchers in the conference, Coach Johnson says that’s a point of emphasis after this loss.

“Tuesday, we struck out seven times, put the ball in play and made them work,” Johnson said. “Today, we have 10 strikeouts, which it's a big deal, and we didn’t make them work defensively.”

The Cardinals are off to a bit of a rocky start, sitting at 2-2 on the season, but it’s a marathon, not a sprint, as they say. Prescott will look to get back in the win column with a four-game week ahead.

First, they hit the road to play La Crosse Logan at 4:30 p.m. Monday and Altoona on Tuesday at 5 p.m. Later in the week, they host Altoona at 5 p.m. Thursday and they finish up by playing Northwestern at noon Saturday.


The Ellsworth Panthers went 2-1 this week and moved to the top of the Middle Border Conference.

The Panthers played back-to-back games against St. Croix Central this past week, first defeating them at home 10-1 and then beating them on the road 8-7. They finished the week with their first loss of the season to Hudson, 8-5.

With this, the Panthers move to 6-1 season and a perfect 4-0 in Middle Border play.

Ellsworth will play a three-game slate this week, first traveling to Zumbrota-Mazeppa on Monday and then to Baldwin-Woodville on Tuesday. Their week finishes up on Thursday when they return home for part two of their split double header against the Blackhawks. All games begin at 5 p.m.

Spring Valley

The Spring Valley Cardinals went 0-2-1 this week after starting the season 3-1.

The Cardinals had a rough go around this time out, losing big to the Colfax Vikings on the road on Tuesday 10-2. They rebounded against Glenwood City, but neither team could get the bats going in that one, with the game ending 0-0.

The last game of the slate was the real heartbreaker though. Spring Valley was up big, 5-2 in the bottom of the seventh inning, but they couldn’t close it out. The home team came back at the last second to score four and walk it off, 6-5.

The 3-3-1 Cardinals will look to put this week behind them as they prepare to host a two-game slate of Dunn-St. Croix games this week. First up is the 2-3 Durand-Arkansaw Panthers on Monday and then the 1-2 Elk Mound Mounders come to town on Thursday. Both games begin at 5 p.m.

River Falls

The River Falls Wildcats lost both of their games last week to the Eau Claire North Huskies, the first on the road on Tuesday with a final score of 6-1 and the second one at home on Thursday by a score of 8-0.

It was a tough week of Big Rivers Conference play for the Wildcats who couldn’t find an answer for Eau Claire’s pitching.

Game one was death by tiny increments as the Huskies scored one run in the second, one in the third and another in the fourth. Meanwhile, although River Falls was struggling to get runners aboard, Lily Burke singled, then Jordan Torrez got on base on a fielder’s choice. She would later come around to score on a sacrifice by Alexis Ralston.

That would about do it for the Wildcats’ offense in this one as River Falls put a total of four batters on base with two hits, two walks and one stolen base by Morgan Kivel.

Meanwhile, the Huskies’ starting pitcher threw a complete game and struck out 18 Wildcats, yes 18. They ran into the same buzz saw in the final two innings of their home game two days later, when the same pitcher came into the game to pitch the final two innings in relief and struck out five Wildcats in six total outs. Thus, they will be happy to leave that team behind for now and focus on their coming schedule.

Next up for River Falls is a pair of games against Hudson and one against Holmen. First, they host Hudson on Tuesday, and then they play the Raiders on the road on Thursday, both at 4:30 p.m. Finally, they play in Holmen next Saturday at 10 a.m.

Elmwood-Plum City

The Elmwood-Plum City Wolves lost both their games this week, first at home to Durand-Arkansaw 5-2 and then to Mondovi on the road 11-0.

It was a tough week for the Wolves who couldn’t seem to get the bats going.

The Panthers scored one in the top of the first, but the Wolves tied it up in the bottom after a six-pitch at bat ended with a single off the bat of Riley Ginsbach that scored Brittany Bechel. Things got away from them in the top of the second as Durand put up three more runs, but the Wolves got one back in the bottom of the third to shrink the deficit to 4-2.

It was a stalemate from there until almost the end when the Panthers added on an insurance run in the top of the seventh. Overall, the Wolves kept pace with them, putting nine baserunners aboard to Durand’s 12.

Abby Krings pitched a complete game for EPC, but unfortunately the five runs were all earned. Lexi Snap and Britta Link each had multi-hit games, and Bechel scored two runs, getting aboard twice with a double and a walk.

The Wolves will look to get into the win column for the first time this season in the coming week when they face the Colfax Vikings on Monday and the Boyceville Bulldogs on Thursday. First pitch for those games is at 5 p.m.

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