Lucky 7 for baseball Cardinals

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Middleton senior first baseman Alex Elliott was named first-team all-Big Eight Conference./File photo


It was another banner year for Middleton’s baseball program, capped with a trip to the WIAA Division 1 state tournament.

And the Cardinals reaped the rewards, landing seven players on the all-Big Eight Conference team.
Senior pitcher Kasey Miller, senior catcher Jackson Keeler and senior first baseman Alex Elliott all received first-team all-league honors. Senior second baseman Zach Kasdorf was a second-team all-league selection, while senior pitcher Garrett Knudtson, senior outfielder Jordan Lueck and junior outfielder Tyler Holley were all named honorable-mention all-conference.

State champion Sun Prairie had the most all-conference players with 11, while Middleton and Janesville Parker were second with seven.

Miller had a tremendous season, going 9-1 with a 2.76 ERA. Miler allowed just 48 hits in 58 1/3 innings, struck out 51 and walked 37 batters.

Miller, a three-year letterwinner, also was second on the Cardinals with a .449 batting average, third with a .506 slugging percentage and third with six doubles. Both Miller and Keeler shared team MVP honors.

“He played his best ball, just like our team did, later in the year,” Middleton manager Tom Schmitt said of Miller. “In the games he pitched, we were definitely the team to beat.

“He had three pitches he normally could control. When he did, he was really tough to hit.”

Keeler was one of the top defensive catchers Middleton has had in years. He also moved into the leadoff spot this season and excelled there.

Keeler led Middleton with a .461 batting average, was first on the team in slugging percentage (.552) and had a team-best 22 RBI. Keeler, another three-year letterwinner, also led the Cardinals with 21 walks and had a sensational fielding percentage of .986.

“He embraced the (leadoff) role of looking and taking pitches and going deep in the count,” Schmitt said of Keeler. “And he had a great year offensively.

“He also handles and receives extremely well, then he threw the ball even better. Good player, even better kid.”

Elliott got his first chance to play with the varsity on a regular basis and made the most of it. Elliott was third on the team in batting average (.374), and first in runs (28), doubles (11), triples (two) and home runs (two).

Elliott also had a team-best .571 slugging percentage and was third on the team in walks (14). And for the second straight season, Elliott was named Middleton’s ‘Most Dedicated’ Player.

“He was voted last year as most dedicated and he doubled that and took charge of what he wanted to do,” Schmitt said of Elliott. “He set goals, took a path and went about his business.

“When we put him at first base, he was willing to listen and work at it. He took more reps because that’s what was needed to get to the level he wanted to be at.”

Kasdorf batted .333 and tied for third on the team with 19 runs scored. Kasdorf, was also fourth with 18 RBI, was hit by a pitch 16 times and played a solid third base.

Kasdorf, a hockey goalie in the winter, also received Middleton’s ‘Most Improved’ award.

“He came along and really made that third base spot look effortless with some of the picks he made,” Schmitt said. “It was good for a goalie to be there. That was a good spot for him.”

Knudtson went 7-2 with a 2.79 ERA. In 57 2/3 innings pitched, he struck out 49 and walked 18.

“When he was able to locate his off speed pitches and get them down, he was pretty good,” Schmitt said. “We talked with him early in the season and told him he was a pitcher, a pitcher only, and it paid off.

“He was a nice consistent No. 2. He wasn’t overpowering, but he had some success because he could hit his spots.”

Lueck batted .365 and had a .416 slugging percentage. He also scored 15 runs, had nine RBI and posted a .941 fielding percentage.

“It was really nice to have him down in the bottom part of the lineup, and he was a big reason the bottom half of the contributed more than normal,” Schmitt said. “He covered a lot of ground, got a lot better and developed a stronger arm. He really worked on it.”

Holley batted .308 and had a .435 slugging percentage. He also had five doubles and nine RBI.

After 13 conference games, though, Holley popped his shoulder out and missed the rest of the year.

“He was having a really good year,” Schmitt said. “He was just hitting rockets around the field. It was too bad we lost him.”

Janesville Parker’s Hunter Van Zandt was the league’s Player of the Year, while Parker’s Brian Martin was the Coach of the Year.

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