Girls softball team falls to East

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Rachel Everson and Middleton's girls softball team dropped their season opener last Tuesday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Last Wednesday, Big Eight Conference athletic directors voted that outdoor events wouldn’t be played if the wind chill is 35 degrees, or colder, two hours before the game or up to two hours after the start time.

That rule came 24 hours too late for Middleton’s girls softball team.

The Cardinals dropped their season-opener, 12-1, at Madison East last Tuesday in a game played with wind chills hovering around 25 degrees and with periodic rain and sleet. The game was stopped after five innings due to the 10-run rule.

“No excuses,” said Middleton first-year manager Perry Hibner, who dropped his first game. “East performed well and we didn’t.

“We struggled in every area. We didn't throw many strikes, we weren't clean in the field and we didn't hit the ball well. About the only highlight was no one was injured getting on or off the bus.”

Middleton actually took a 1-0 lead after ½-inning.

In the top of the first, Rachel Everson had a one-out single and Jessica Parente followed with a hard single up the middle.

Shelby Ballweg walked on four pitches to load the bases. Katrina Anderson then hit a high pop-up to second that was dropped, allowing Everson to score.

But Middleton could only manage two hits the rest of the way off of East standout Ayden Romer.

“She pitched well against us the second time we played East in 2015,” Hibner said of Romer. “She has good speed and moved her pitches around. But we were too patient at the plate and took too many first-pitch strikes that were great pitches to hit hard.”

Middleton starter Makenzie Kopp struggled to throw strikes. Kopp walked the first two batters and five total in the first inning. That helped the Purgolders score three first inning runs on just one hit.

East added a run in the second and struck for two quick runs in the third to grab a 6-1 lead. Hibner replaced Kopp with sophomore Lauren Banke, who hasn’t felt well for the past week.

Banke also struggled, and by the end of the frame, East had taken an 11-1 lead.

“Madison East has a very nice team, but we didn’t see this coming,” Hibner said. “We have been working hard and the girls have been doing what we asked them to do.

“The weather wasn’t good and we reminded them the team that gets on top in difficult conditions has a huge advantage. We certainly didn’t compete to our abilities.”

The Cardinals were Big Eight Conference co-champions a year ago and have extremely high hopes again this spring. That’s why Hibner was extremely optimistic his team would bounce back with gusto.

“This group has had a lot of success over the years,” he said. “How we deal with this adversity is very important.

“If we bounce back and compete the way we need in order to be successful in the Big Eight, then it will have been a great early season lesson. I was very pleased with how hard we have practiced and supported one another the past few days.”

• On deck: Middleton was scheduled to host Sun Prairie Tuesday. The Cardinals then host Madison Memorial Thursday at 5 p.m. and WIAA Division 2 juggernaut River Valley Friday at 5 p.m.

Middleton’s home games were expected to be played at Orchid Heights for now because Firefighter’s Park still wasn’t open.


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