Softball Cards staying positive

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Middleton manager Perry Hibner (right) is hoping to get his team pointed in the right direction this week./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Discouraged? Downcast? Dispirited?


Middleton’s girls softball team dropped four straight games last week, pushing its overall losing streak to five. However, Cardinals’ manager Perry Hibner certainly saw some positives after his team lost to Verona and Beloit Memorial in Big Eight Conference play before falling to perennial power Stevens Point in a doubleheader last Saturday in Poynette.

“We competed pretty well in all four games,” Hibner said. “The girls also realized just what it takes if we want to play with the top teams in our conference and the state.

“We can't afford mental and physical lapses and we had a few in each game. These games reinforced what we have been saying, that if we stop giving teams extra outs with mistakes in the field and hit the ball where it is pitched we can play with anyone.”

Middleton was scheduled to play Janesville Parker last Thursday, Fort Atkinson on Friday and a doubleheader at La Crosse Central on Saturday. However, the return of winter-like weather resulted in those games all being postponed.

Here’s a recap of the Cardinals’ week:

• Game 1: Stevens Point 6, Middleton 5 (10) — The Pointers have won eight WIAA Division 1 state titles, the most recent coming in 2016. The Panthers have also made 18 trips to state.

Hibner said Stevens Point coach Tom Dohner reached out Friday morning shortly after the La Crosse Central doubleheader was called off to see if the Cardinals would be interested in playing. Hibner didn't have to convince his players.

“They were super excited to challenge themselves against Stevens Point,” Hibner said. “We looked at it as a great opportunity. If you want to be the best, you have to play the best.”

Middleton jumped to a 2-0 lead in the first inning after back-to-back RBI doubles by Ashley Bindl and Olivia Hebert.

“Ashley's hit would have been a home run on any normal day,” said Hibner, who noted the temperature was in the low 40s with wind gusts of 20-25 mph. “She crushed it, but the wind knocked it down a bit.”

Stevens Point closed within 2-1 in the second. The Cardinals then pushed their lead to 3-1 in the third thanks to a leadoff double to left by Jenna Redders, a sacrifice bunt by CC Hiorns and an RBI groundout by Bindl.

“Good teams aren’t going to let you have big innings. Sometimes you have to play small ball,” Hibner said. “We don't bunt a lot, but CC is our best bunter and she did a great job of moving Jenna over, and Ashley did an equally good job of making sure she drove Jenna in.”

The Pointers scored two unearned runs in the third to tie the game, 3-3.

Stevens Point took a 5-3 lead in the fourth, but the Cardinals cut the deficit to 5-4 in the fifth on Rachael Roberts' sacrifice fly to right, which scored Bindl, who walked with one out. Roberts then tied the game in the seventh with an RBI triple to right to score Hebert.

“It was great to have Rachael back in the lineup,” said Hibner, who noted Roberts missed the previous six games with a dislocated kneecap. “We are a much better team when she is playing.”

Brynn Thayer worked out of a bases-loaded jam in the seventh and Redders threw out a runner at the plate to end the eighth. Middleton's best chance to score in extra innings came in the eighth when Redders and Hiorns singled with two outs. Bindl then smoked a line drive to center that Jenna Eilers made a diving catch on to end the inning.

Stevens Point finally scored in the bottom of the 10th on Sammy Saloun's single to center, which plated Eilers, who had doubled to left with one out.

• Game 2: Stevens Point 3, Middleton 0 — Kristen Richter outdueled MHS sophomore pitcher Ellie Buza as the Panthers blanked the Cardinals.

Richter allowed just five hits, while Buza scattered 10 hits and walked only one. All of Stevens Point's runs came with two outs in the second inning.

“Ellie pitched a terrific game and gave us a real chance to win,” Hibner said. “It's too bad we just couldn’t get anything going.”

Richter threw in the low-to-mid 50s and worked the outside part of the plate. Hibner said the Cardinals talked repeatedly about hitting the ball the other way and not swinging at pitches up in the zone, but struggled to do either.

“We have to do a better job of making adjustments at the plate,” Hibner said. “We didn't, so their pitcher kept throwing to the same spot over and over again. And we swung at too many balls while letting other pitches we could hit hard go by for strikes. That’s entirely our fault.”

Middleton loaded the bases with two outs in the first, but Sam Williams grounded out to end the threat. The Cardinals also loaded the bases in the fifth and had two runners on in three other innings, but never were able to score.

Still, Hibner was pleased with how his team played against the mighty Pointers.

“(Stevens Point) doesn't have the dominant pitcher (it) has had for many years,” Hibner noted. “But Stevens Point is still very good and they found a way to win. We didn't, but I believe we will be better for having played those games.”

• Beloit Memorial 7, Middleton 2 — Miscues hurt the Cardinals in a loss to the Purple Knights on April 9.

Middleton had two errors in the first inning as Beloit jumped to a 4-0 lead. Redders and Bindl singled and later scored in the bottom of the first to cut the deficit to 4-2, but the Cardinals managed only two more hits off Jacey Walker the rest of the way.

“She throws in the upper 50s and we have struggled against her many times in the past,” Hibner said of Walker. “We knew scoring might be difficult, so good defense was going to be vital. Unfortunately, we got off to a bad start in the field.”

• Verona 7, Middleton 1 — The Cardinals committed five errors and lost to the Wildcats on April 8.

The game was scoreless after three innings, but Verona took advantage of an error to score four runs in the fourth with two outs off Thayer. The big hit was a two-run home run to right center by Alina Yazek.

Verona added three runs in the fifth off Buza on a walk and three Middleton errors.

The Cardinals’ only run came in the sixth when Bindl was hit by a pitch, moved to second on a single by Hebert, stole third and scored on a groundout by Williams to short.

“We hit the ball better than we did a year ago against Meghan Anderson,” said Hibner, who noted the Verona senior hit 63 mph on the radar gun. “We put people on and moved them around, but just couldn't get them in. Still, had we been better in the field we would have been right there at the end.”

• On deck: Middleton was at Janesville Parker for a doubleheader Monday. The Cardinals hosted Janesville Craig Tuesday and are scheduled to host Sun Prairie Thursday at 5 p.m.


April 13

Game 1

Stevens Point 6, Middleton 5

Middleton …………. 201 010 100 0 — 5 13 1

Stevens Point …….. 012 200 000 1 — 6 15 1

Pitchers (ip-er-h-so-bb): Thayer (L: 9.2-15-4-9-5), Jones (W; 10-13-4-8-4). Leading hitters: Hebert (M) 3x5, Redders (M) 3x6, Hiorns (M) 2x4, Eilers (SP) 3x6, Saloun (SP) 3x6, Earnest (SP) 2x3, Miklesh (SP) 2x4, Lawrynk (SP) 2x4, Lass (SP) 2x5. 3B: Roberts (M), Miklesh (SP). 2B: Bindl (M), Hebert, Redders, Miklesh, Jones (SP), Lass 2, Eilers, Earnest 2. 


Game 2

Stevens Point 3, Middleton 0

Stevens Point …………… 030 000 0 — 3 10 3

Middleton ………………. 000 000 0 — 0 5 2

Pitchers (ip-h-er-so-bb): Richter (W; 7-5-0-4-4), Buza (L; 7-10-0-3-1). Leading hitters: Miklesh (SP) 2x4, Lass (SP) 2x4, Earnest (SP) 2x4. 3B: Earnest. 2B: Miklesh, Vander Sanden (M).


April 9

Beloit Memorial 7, Middleton 2

Beloit Memorial ………….. 401 000 2 — 7 10 1

Middleton ………………. 200 000 0 — 2-5-2

Pitchers (ip-h-er-so-bb): Walker (W: 7-5-1-6-3), Thayer (L; 6-7-3-4-1), Buza (1-3-1-1-0). Leading hitters: Brown (BM) 2x3, Stavn (BM) 2x4, Henthorn (BM) 2x4. 2B: Henthorn.


April 8

Middleton ………….. 000 001 0 — 1 6 5

Verona …………… 000 430 x — 7-5-1

Pitchers (ip-h-er-so-bb): Thayer (L; 4-5-0-3-0), Buza (2-0-0-4-1), Anderson (W; 7-6-1-7-0). Leading hitters: Bindl (M) 2x2, Vogel (V) 2x3. HR: Yazek. 2B: Williams (M), Vogel, Armstrong (V).



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