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The Spring Valley Cardinals' winless season came to an end in an unfavorable fashion on Thursday, May 16. The No. 10-seeded Cardinals (0-17) were held to one hit in their 15-0, three-inning loss to the No. 7-seeded Cadott Hornets (7-8) in the first round of the Division 4 softball playoffs.
Prescott's head coach Jeff Ryan reminded his players of the soon-approaching end of their regular season before the month of May. "When you're playing all the time, the season goes quickly, and then it's just gone," Ryan said after Prescott's 7-3 win over Osceola on Thursday, May 16. "I was telling the players, and I don't know if they really understood, but I was looking at the calendar two and a half weeks ago and I said, 'Do you guys realize we only have four full practices until tournaments start?'"
The Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association released its playoff baseball brackets on Thursday, May 16, one week before the opening day of the 2019 regionals. Two Pierce County teams will begin their playoff runs at home while two will be forced to play on the road in the first round of regionals. The Spring Valley Cardinals (14-2) earned a No. 1 seed and a first-round bye in the Division 4 Sectional 1 bracket and will host the winner of No. 4-seeded Prairie Farm (5-6) vs. No. 5-seeded McDonell Catholic (2-11) on Tuesday, May 28, at 5 p.m.
The Ellsworth Panthers were unable to get their offense going in their first Middle Border Conference loss to the Amery Warriors on Monday, May 13, but they quickly turned things around with a 19-1 win over Lake City the following night. The Panthers (20-2 overall, 13-1 Middle Border Conference) defeated the host Tigers 19-1 in four innings to finish their historic regular season run with 20 wins. Sophomore Autumn Earney was the talk of the night after she recorded five RBI with two doubles against the Tigers' pitching staff.
Not much has gone the Ellsworth Panthers' way this season — aside from their season series against the Amery Warriors. The Panthers' (2-12 overall, 2-10 Middle Border Conference) two wins on the season have come at the Warriors' (4-9, 2-9) expense, and the most recent came on Tuesday, May 14, when Ellsworth put two four-run innings together to defeat Amery 8-7. The Panthers got off to a 4-0 run in the opening inning after Charlie Stuhl hit a two-out, two-run single to right field and the Warriors' pitcher walked in two runs.
Some may have been concerned after Aly Reuvers' 200-meter dash on Tuesday night. After winning the race, the Ellsworth senior collapsed in the grass with her hands over her face and legs in the air. But the return of her unfailing smile said it all: a few cramps couldn't overpower the feeling of victory.
The 2019 Ellsworth boys' tennis season was an uncertainty four months ago. In January, Ellsworth Athletic Director Ann Huppert called the Panthers' coach-less, returning players to Ellsworth High School's office to discuss the unresolved future of their program. "I was super nervous," said Ellsworth senior Adam Johnson. "We were writing out names on paper hoping we had enough kids who would want to go out."
The WIAA released the 2019 playoff softball brackets for Divisions 2, 3 4 and 5 on Monday, May 13, and now it's up to the Ellsworth, Elmwood/Plum City, Prescott and Spring Valley teams to make the most of their playoff runs. The Spring Valley Cardinals (0-15) will be the first local team to begin their postseason play. The winless Cardinals received a No. 10 seed in the Division 4 Sectional 1 bracket and will travel to Cadott on Thursday, May 16, to face the No. 7-seeded Hornets at 4:30 p.m.
The Spring Valley Cardinals' fate of taking second place in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference standings appears to be set with just the final DSC meet to go, but Colton Kotval's individual standing is still up in the air. The Spring Valley junior finished as a medalist at the conference's Friday, May 10, meet in Glenwood City after shooting a 41 at Glen Hills Golf Club and is now tied for second place in the individual conference standings with Durand's Julia Hayden. Hayden and Kotval are tied with 43 points while Durand's TJ Tulip leads the way with 47 individual conference points.
The importance of positivity in a game of errors has not been lost on Brandon Walczak in his first year as a head high school baseball coach. In fact, he's relied on optimism and patience as he's guided his young Spring Valley Cardinals team to a 12-2 season and the top of the Dunn-St. Croix Conference standings.