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Pierce County will be well represented at Thursday's WIAA track and field sectional meets. Thirty-six athletes have earned the chance to lengthen their track and field seasons after placing fourth or better at their regional meets. The Spring Valley Cardinals and Elmwood/Plum City Wolves competed at the Division 3 Colfax regional on Monday, May 20, and placed fourth or better in 12 events collectively. The Cardinals will send five male athletes to the Thursday, May 23, Division 3 sectional meet in Cameron along with four girls.
The Prescott Cardinals' offense came through on Tuesday night after vanishing the night before. The Cardinals pulled together an 8-3 victory over the Eau Claire Regis Ramblers on Tuesday, May 21, after facing a 3-0 deficit. Regis led 3-0 heading into the bottom of the third inning, but the Cardinals (15-8) used a single from Hunter Daymond, a Lane Budworth double, two walks and a fielder's choice ground out from Zach Knee to take their first lead of the game before the fourth.
The benches in the home dugout of "Biggs" Frey Memorial Field weren't used for sitting on Tuesday. Instead, the Prescott Cardinals (16-9) piled their athletic bags and softball equipment onto the benches while they leaned against the metal fence, undeterred by the rain that dripped off the dugout's roof and blew onto the players' rosy-cheeked faces.
The No. 3-seeded Elmwood/Plum City Wolves' higher seed over the No. 6-seeded Royall Panthers didn't come under question on Monday night. The Wolves hosted the Panthers for their first regional game of the 2019 Division 5 playoffs on Monday, May 20, and sent the Panthers home with a 10-0 loss, which wrapped up their 7-10 season. Sophomore pitcher Anna Blanford was a mastermind in the circle where she held the Panthers to one hit, one walk and collected 12 strikeouts. Only eight of the at bats Blanford encountered didn't end in a strikeout.
It's been quite a season for first-year head coach Brandon Walczak and his Spring Valley baseball team. The Cardinals are currently on a six-game win streak, and their most recent win allowed them to clinch the 2019 Dunn-St. Croix Conference title. The Cardinals completed their 15-2 regular season with a 7-0 win against Durand on Friday and enter the postseason with a .357 team batting average, which leads the conference. Spring Valley recorded the second-best ERA behind Boyceville and the second-least amount of errors behind Mondovi.
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.