By Reagan Hoverman
Despite a loss to Somerset to end the confer ence schedule, the Prescott Cardinals secured a share of the 2022 Middle Border Conference championship, its first such title since the 2018 season.
The Cardinals will share the 2022 crown with the Blackhawks of Baldwin Woodville. Both programs finished the season with an 11 3 record in Middle Border Conference games. The Cardinals and Blackhawks split the season se
ries as each team secured victories in their re spective home ballparks. Prescott head coach Nick Johnson spoke about winning the confer
“One of our goals this year was to win a con
ference championship, and we did that,” John son said. “We didn’t want to split it with Baldwin Woodville, but it is what it is. We’ll take it. It’s only the fourth time that Prescott has won a MBC championship. It’s a big deal, we’re excited about it and hopefully, we can keep going.”
Prescott had a chance to secure the title out
right in its road game against the Somerset Spar tans on Monday, May 16. With a win, Prescott would have improved to 12 2 and would have been the outright champions.
Instead, Prescott got out to a shaky start early in the game that put the Cardinals in a 0 3 deficit that proved to be too much to overcome. Prescott cut the lead to one run in the top of the fourth inning by scoring two runs.
The Spartans bounced back with two runs of their own in the bottom of the sixth inning that helped secure a 5 2 victory for Somerset. Prescott registered three errors in six defensive innings. Johnson spoke about what went wrong for the Cardinals.
“We showed up and we weren’t ready to play,” Johnson said. “That team wanted to beat us a lot more than we wanted to beat them. By the time we figured it out and woke up, it was
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too late. We just didn’t have energy and it seemed like we weren’t moti vated that day. It was disappointing, to be honest with you. Hopefully, we learn from it.”
Johnson spoke about how his team can’t show up to a game not locked in and expect to win. The Spartans have put together a strong season this year – even in a stacked Middle Bor der Conference – and have compiled a 14 6 overall record and a 10 6 record in conference games. Their success earned a #1 seed in the Divi sion 1 bracket of the WIAA playoffs.
“You can’t just show up and expect to win, especially against Somerset,” Johnson said. “They’re a #1 seed in the D2 bracket. I thought we showed up and they got us right away. We flat out got beat.”
Although Prescott struggled against Somerset in the final confer
ence game of the season, the Cardi nals had a successful season by any standards. They finished 17 6 overall, 11 3 in the conference, with a MBC championship, and as the #1 seed in their portion of the Division 3 bracket.
The value of the #1 seed is im
mense. It means that if both teams ad vance far enough, Prescott and Baldwin Woodville could play a play off game and that the Cardinals would have home field advantage. Johnson spoke about how important it was to get that top seed.
“That’s why that #1 seed is so cru cial in softball because you get home games until the sectional final,” John son said. “You get two with the semi, the regional championship, and then the first game of sectionals which could potentially be Baldwin Woodville.”
If Prescott were to get out of its portion of the bracket, the Cardinals would likely meet Bloomer in the sec tional final. Prescott and Bloomer played a non conference regular sea son game on Tuesday, May 17, in Prescott. Bloomer defeated Prescott 7 2 to improve to 20 2 overall for the season. Johnson spoke about the tal ent on that Bloomer roster.
“They’re ranked third in the state and have one of the best pitchers in the state,” Johnson said. “We strug gled against her, but you know, we had a couple of defensive mistakes and if we get a couple of crucial hits, it’s a different game. Our girls feel like we can beat anybody we play against, we just need to clean some things up.”
Johnson spoke extensively about his team, what they’re doing well and what needs to be improved. He spoke about what he believes will be inte
gral to making a deep run in the Divi
sion 3 playoff bracket.
“To not have these lapses defen sively,” Johnson said. “We haven’t had a ton this year, but every time we do, it really snowballs. It’s a critical point in the game and that's softball. One error can cost you a game and it seems like ours are really costing us. We need to clean that up and we’ve been talking about being mentally ready and being a play ahead.”
While being defensively stout is the most important aspect in John son’s eyes, being able to hit a good pitcher is a close second. The Cardi nals have feasted on average and below average pitching and have struggled against some of the top pitchers in the conference and state.
As Prescott gets deep into the play
offs, fewer – if any at all – average or below average pitchers will be re maining in the bracket. Pitching wins softball games, and Prescott is going to have to hang crooked numbers against some of the top talents in the bracket to reach another state title game.
“We’ve got to be able to hit a good pitcher,” Johnson said. “We have a lot of success against average pitchers and below, but we’ve got to figure out a way to beat a good one because we’re going to see a lot of them com ing up.”
Prescott will begin what it hopes is a long and fruitful postseason run on Tuesday, May 24, when the Cardinals host Stratford in the regional semi final. Game time for that contest is still TBD.