Softball Cards sweep Madison East

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Olivia Hebert and Middleton's girls softball team swept a doubleheader from Madison East last Saturday./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

MADISON — They had spent far too much time in a gymnasium when they longed to be outside.

They did everything possible to keep things fresh, but at the end of the day, the options are limited.

So when Middleton’s girls’ softball team arrived at Madison College for a doubleheader with Madison East last Saturday, the Cardinals felt like it was Christmas morning. Looking at the snow on the outside of the gorgeous turf field made it feel even more like the holidays.

“Oh my goodness, this felt so good,” Middleton senior first baseman and Belmont recruit Jessica Parente said. “I was so happy to get outside.”

It showed.

The Cardinals erupted for 11 runs in the first two innings and steamrolled the Purgolders, 12-2, in the first game. Middleton then rallied from a 4-2 deficit in the second game and posted a thrilling 5-4 victory.

The Cardinals improved to 3-2 overall and in the Big Eight Conference.

“We’ve tried to mix it up a bit and keep it fresh,” Middleton freshman pitcher Charlotte Sax said. “But we did do some things over and over and it gets long. But I think it did us good to do some things over to build those skills.”

Parente agreed.

“We’ve been trying to stay ready and stay hungry to compete,” Parente said. “And I think that’s why we were so ready and so on top of it from the beginning.”

Sax was certainly on top of it during an impressive day on the mound.

Sax went the distance and picked up the win in the opener. Sax then threw the final 1 2/3 innings in relief in the second game and picked up the win when Middleton rallied from a two-run deficit.

“I think it was just about relaxing and just not getting in my own head,” Sax said. “Sometimes I tend to like really nag on myself for doing something wrong. But if I made a mistake today, I just wanted to think about the next pitch and come in with a positive approach.”

The Cardinals have had games postponed on 14 different dates this spring due to snow and rain. And after a nine-day hiatus, Middleton was raring to go, jumping on East for six runs in the first inning of the opener.

Brianna Buss was hit by a pitch to open the game and Ashley Bindl singled to left. Parente, who had five RBI on the day, then ripped a two-run triple to center. Olivia Hebert followed with an RBI single to right that plated Parente, then Rachael Roberts was hit by a pitch and Sophie Schafer walked to load the bases.

Sam Williams reached on an error that scored Hebert, then Roberts scored on a passed ball and Schafer scored on a wild pitch to give Middleton a 6-0 lead.

“I think that was us taking all the excitement we had to play and we threw it at the first inning,” Parente said. “It’s kind of hard to keep up to that, especially at that level and when you have (six) runs in your first at bat. That was just a really good start.”

Middleton did keep it up, though.

The Purgolders scored twice in the bottom of the first and closed within 6-2. But the Cardinals added five runs in the second and surged to an 11-2 lead.

Hebert and Roberts had one-out singles, then Schafer ripped a two-run triple to right-center field. Schafer scored on an error by the catcher, and later both Williams and Celia Horns scored on an error by the third baseman.

“We’re growing as hitters,” Middleton coach Perry Hibner said. “Our problem is stringing together a few hits ... but we did a nice job of that in the first game.”

In the third, Hebert had a leadoff triple and scored on an RBI groundout by Roberts to give the Cardinals a 12-2 lead.

Sax did the rest for the Cardinals. After allowing three hits in the first inning, Sax gave up just one hit the rest of the way.

Sax retired the final seven batters she faced and 10 of the last 11. Sax also struck out three and walked just one.

“It was fun,” Sax said. “It was my first time getting to go out there and have a full game. This was a lot more than I’ve pitched this year. It was a good feeling.”

East was far more competitive in the nightcap and used a three-run fifth inning to grab a 4-2 lead. But the Cardinals — who were the home team in game two — rallied back.

In the bottom of the fifth, sophomore Katelyn Graf had a leadoff triple and scored when Horns reached on an error. Horns stole second, then scored with two outs when Parente ripped a single to center that tied the game, 4-4.

In the bottom of the sixth, pinch hitter Erin Fischer led off the frame with an infield single and stole second. Fischer moved to third on an infield groundout by Graf, then scored on a wild pitch to give Middleton a 5-4 lead.

“We kept our energy up the whole time,” Parente said. “We stayed positive. If one girl got down, we were instantly picking her up. And with all the practices we’ve had, we were really able to prepare and be ready for this.”

From there, Sax did the rest.

Sax entered the game in with one out in the top of the sixth and retired five of the six batters she faced. Sax struck out two and received some defensive help when second baseman Sophie Schafer made a diving stop and threw out East’s Lexi Van Lone to end the game.

“I think I was still in the pitching mentality,” Sax said. “I was cheering the team on and trying to keep my energy going and thinking about if I had to finish the game, what I would do to do that.”

In all, it was a terrific performance for a Middleton team that made the most of their first game action in more than a week.

“Overall, they did a nice job,” Hibner said. “There’s a lot we still have to work on, but it was a good day.”

• Janesville Craig 11, Middleton 4 — The Cougars (3-7) took advantage of five hits, three walks and a hit by pitch in a seven-run fifth to beat the Cardinals (3-3) at Orchid Heights Monday. Junior Ashley Bindl had three hits and drove in a run for Middleton.


April 21

Middleton 12, Madison East 2

Middleton ............. 651 000 0 — 12 10 0

Madison East ........ 200 000 0 — 2 4 2

Pitchers (ip-h-er-bb-so) — Sax (W; 5-4-2-1-3); Romer (L; 5-10-7-3-5).

Leading hitters — MID: Bindl 2x4, Hebert 3x4. 3B — Hebert, Parente, Schafer. MEa: 2B — Romer. 3B — Sniadach.

April 21

Middleton 5, Madison East 4

Madison East ........ 000 130 0 — 4 9 1

Middleton ............. 101 021 0 — 5 9 1

Pitchers (ip-h-er-bb-so) — Romer (L; 6-9-2-0-8); Sax (1.2-1-0-0-2); Buza (W; 1.1-2-0-0-3); Ross (4-6-3-1-2).

Leading hitters — MEa: Romer 2x4, Najdowski 2x3. MID: Hebert 2x3, Parente 2x3. 2B — Hebert. 3B — Bindl, Parente, Graf.

April 23

Janesville Craig 11, Middleton 4

Janeville Craig .......... 200 070 2 — 11 10 3

Middleton ................. 110 200 0 — 4 11 0

Pitchers (ip-h-er-so-bb) -- Kealy (W; 7-11-3-1-1); Sax (L; 4.2-3-7-5-6), Ross (2.1-7-4-0-1).

Leading hitters -- Bindl (M) 3x3, Williams (M) 2x3, Graf (M) 2x3, Buss (M) 2x4. 3B: Salmon (JC). 2B: Flood (JC), Kealy (JC), Graf.



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