Prep Softball Round-up: Beyond the mid-way point of season

Crickets have best record of Tri-County Area teams

While the Fall Creek High School Softball Team is still in contention for theWest Cloverbelt Conference title, given the way Bloomer is playing this season, it would be a big surprise if the Blackhawks would fall apart past the midway point of the 2022 season,

Led by pitcher Calley Olson, the 'Hawks have a 14-2 overall record, 11-0 in the WCC. Two more league wins would wrap things up for Bloomer which they could get Tuesday in a doubleheader vs. Chippewa Falls McDonell.

Two of Fall Creek's five losses this season have come against the Blackhawks, 11-1 earlier this season and 10-2 this past Thursday. But that doesn't tarnish the 15-5 season the Crickets have put together so far.

FC had an impressive performance at Saturday's Gilman Slamfest Invitational where they won all three games they played in: 10-6 over Shell Lake, 11-0 over Edgar and 21-9 over Marathon. Olson had a double and four RBIs vs. Marathon, Elena Raffensberger and Emma Westrate both had three hits and three RBIs. Fitch was the winning pitcher. Against Edgar, Kennedy Gruhlke led Fc with three hits while Catrina Cline, Hannah Herrem, Sophie Johnson, Averie Barka and Beki Hutchinson all had two hits combining for four RBIs. Olson tossed a two-hitter with six strikeouts and just one walk to get the win. And against Shell Lake, Olson was again lighting up her opponents at the plate with four hits including a home run, double and four RBIs. Hannah Herrum went 3-for-4 with an RBI as did Lexi Gustafson while Cline, Hutchinson and Kennedy Tumm each had two hits with Cline hitting an RBI-double. FC trailed the Lakers 2-1 in the fifth before scoring five runs to take the lead for good. Olson again got the win from the mound. In three games the Crickets had a grand total of 50 hits.

The Crickets also swept Eau Claire Regis back on Tuesday, May 3 by scores of 16-2 and 17-2 in Eau Claire with pitchers Jenna Fitch and Grace Herrem. Both combined for just five hits given up and 10 strikeouts as the Crickets develop some pitching depth to go with usual starter Sam Olson. Olson's still hitting the ball well as she had in Game 1 against the Ramblers. Teammate Elena Raffensberger had two hits, including a triple, and three RBIs in Game 1, Hannah Herrem had two hits and two RBIs in Game 1 while Catrina Cline and Karley Harriman had two hits and two RBIs each in Game 2. They swept Chippewa Falls McDonell back on Tuesday, April 26 by scores of 15-5 and 5-3, crushed Cadott 19-3 on Thursday, April 28 and downed Thorp 16-9 at home on Friday, April 29 as the games have come fast and furious in league play in order to catch-up from earlier rainouts, snowouts and other cancellations in what has been so far a wet and cold spring prep teams have had to deal with.

The win over Thorp was Fall Creek's first over the Cardinals in the regular season since 2014. The Crickets also had a win over big school Eau Claire Memorial 8-2 back 0on Monday, May 2 in Eau Claire, just their second-ever win over the Old Abes in program history.

FC will host rival Osseo-Fairchild in a doubleheader on Tuesday beginning at 4 p.m. The Thunder are just trying to get at and stay above .500 which hasn't been easy this season playing without injured all-conference player Brooke McCune. After a slow start the Thunder,.5-6 overall, won five out of six games including doubleheader home sweep of Eau Claire Regis on April 26 along with wins over Stanley-Boyd 9-6 at home April 28, and 7-4 at Chippewa Falls McDonell on April 29. O-F split with Thorp on May 3, winning Game 2 by an 8-7 score after fallibng 9-13 in Game 1. But Osseo-Fairchild was beaten by Cadott at home 11-4 on May 5 and fell 12-2 at home to Bloomer on Friday, May 6 to drop below .500. overall. However the Thunder are still at .500 in the WCC at 5-5.

The Dairyland Conference has been dominated in softball by Blair-Taylor this season. The Widlcats have been one of the top-ranked teams in the state in Division 5 and leads the DC with a 14-0 reccord with Melrose-Mindoro and Eau Claire Immanuel Lutheran two games back at 12-2 each. Mel-Min. just swept a doubleheader against Augusta at home on Thursday, May 4 by scores of 5-4 and 5-3 which put the Beavers below .500 at 7-8 overall, 5-8 in the conference. The losses to the Mustangs were compounded by another doubleheader sweep, again by close losses, to Independence/Gilmanton back on April 29 by scores of 5-0 and 6-3. The lone wins for AHS in the last two weeks were back on Tuesday, May 3 at Lincoln. Layla Johnson and Nevaeh Bergman each picked up their first hits of the year for the Beaver as the team had nine hits, while winning pitcher Sam Wincse had 14 strikeouts.

Augusta also topped rival Eleva-Strum 7-1 on April 28 at home. The game was close until Winsce drove in several runs with home in the late innings. The win was Augusta head coach Jake Kruger's 100th. Eleva-Strum still doesn't have a regular season win outside of forfeits over Whitehall, which had to cancel its regular varsity season just a week before starting due to lack of players. Recent losses for the Cardinals include 23-10 to Alma/Pepin at home on April 26, a solid competitive effort at home vs. Blair-Taylor despite a 16-5 loss on April 29; doubleheader sweeps at Cochrane-Fountain City 17-0 and 11-1 on May 3 and against on Saturday, May 7 at home to Immanuel by scores of 16-1 and 20-2. In Game 2 vs. the Lancers, Central's Paige Hammer and Maddy Bertrang both had two hits.

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