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Roden, Belleveau named first-team all-league

Tom Schmitt took over as Middleton’s baseball manager in 2003.

In that time, Schmitt and the Cardinals have won a state championship, have reached the state tournament seven times, and have been a consistent force in the Big Eight Conference.

So when Schmitt utters the following statement, you take notice.

“When I think of Alan Roden and the top kids we’ve ever had, he’s in the top-five,” Schmitt said of his junior catcher. “He’s been very fun to have.”

Roden, a University of Creighton recruit, just finished a tremendous season and was named first-team all-Big Eight Conference. Senior outfielder Liam Belleveau joined Roden on the first team, while junior pitcher Brady Schmitt was named second-team all-league and junior utility player Zach Shipley was named honorable mention all-conference.

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Middleton's HTL team moves to 10-0

In baseball, “ace” is used to describe a team’s number one starting pitcher, someone who can lead his team to victory with his arm.  

Middleton starting pitcher Drew Farrell looked every bit the part of an ace on Sunday, going the distance and leading the 29ers to a 7-0 win over Ashton.

Middleton improved to 10-0 in the Northern Section’s East Division and leads second place Black Earth by four games. Ashton fell to 5-5 and will need to fight for its postseason lives over the final month of the regular season.

Farrell dazzled while hurling a complete game. Farrell threw just 99 pitches and limited Ashton to four hits while striking out four.

Farrell rarely faced adversity in the game, dancing around two Ashton rallies in the fourth and sixth innings.

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Ten Soccer Cards named all-conference

To the victors go the spoils.

Middleton’s girls soccer team had a tremendous season and captured the Big Eight Conference championship. Not surprisingly, the Cardinals dominated when it came to all-conference voting.

Senior forward Maya Shea, senior midfielder Kalli Acker and junior defender Emily Duecker were all named first-team all-conference. Freshman midfielder Tyler Wilson received second-team all-league honors, while senior forwards Payton Houden and Tessa Grywalsky, sophomore midfielder Charlotte Dunn, senior defender Lexey Grapentine, sophomore defender Emily Raisleger and junior Lexi Schultz were all named honorable-mention all-conference.

Shea led the Cardinals with 16 goals and ranked third with six assists. Shea received the most votes among forwards in the Big Eight, which put her in the running for Conference Player of the Year honors, as well.

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Zucker shines at state

MADISON — Andy Zucker grew accustomed to leading a group of golfers this season.

Monday and Tuesday, Middleton’s standout junior golfer was forced into a ‘Lone Ranger’ type role.

But Zucker showed he can thrive under any scenario.

Zucker posted a two-day total of 157 at the WIAA Division 1 boys golf tournament held at University Ridge and finished in a tie for 28th place.

Middleton failed to qualify as a team for the first time since 2013. But Zucker advanced through sectionals and turned in an extremely solid two-day performance.

“I had a lot of fun,” said Zucker, who moved into the role of Middleton’s No. 1 player midway through the season. “Playing as an individual is a lot different.

“My mindset was to be more aggressive. I like being under pressure and I like a lot of people watching.”

Zucker certainly handled the pressure well, something Middleton coach Tom Cabalka took note of.

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Track teams compete at state

LACROSSE — Sitori Tanin finished her freshman basketball season as a reserve on Middleton’s varsity squad.

But Tanin capped her debut with the Cardinals’ track and field program this spring as the leader of the pack.

Tanin placed seventh in the triple jump with a personal-best leap of 37 feet, 2 ¼ inches at the WIAA Division 1 state track and field meet at UW-La Crosse’s Veterans Memorial Stadium last Friday evening.

While Tanin narrowly missed a spot on the podium, trailing sixth-place finisher Armoni Brown of Waukesha South by ¾ of an inch, Tanin exceeded her expectations.

“I was really excited to qualify for state,” Tanin said. “It’s my first year doing track. I didn’t think I’d get this far. It was a great experience just getting here. My initial goal when I actually qualified for state was to make the finals because I was seeded ninth.”

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Soccer Cards stunned in regional finals

No one saw this coming.

Middleton’s girls soccer team seemed poised for a deep postseason run. The Cardinals seemed ready to reach the state tournament for the first time since 2013.

But that dream died last Saturday when ninth-seeded Verona stunned the top-seeded Cardinals, 1-0, in a WIAA Division 1 regional final.

“The season ended too quickly,” Middleton coach Mary Duffy said. “And looking back at it, it seems to have flown by and I am not sure where it all went. 

“Games came and went, goals for and against, slide tackles, headers, tears, sweat, hard work. It all seems like a blur in my head, and I wish I could slow down the fast paced picture flying through my head of all that this team went through this season.”

Most of what Middleton went through was certainly memorable.

The Cardinals won the Big Eight Conference title. They had lost just once since May. And they earned the No. 1 seed in their sectional.

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Baseball Cards fall short of state

Tom Schmitt was clairvoyant.

Unfortunately, that didn't make Middleton’s manager feel any better Tuesday afternoon.

Schmitt believed the Cardinals’ WIAA Division 1 sectional semifinal against Tomah in La Crosse Tuesday would be a low-scoring affair. Schmitt was dead on, unfortunately for the Cardinals, that wasn’t a good thing.

Tomah scored a pair of seventh inning runs — both with two outs — and rallied for a 2-1 win over Middleton. Tomah defeated Waunakee later in the day and advance to state, while the Cardinals finished the year 13-14.

Middleton left a runner stranded in each of the first three innings. The Cardinals then broke through with a run in the fourth and took a 1-0 lead.

With one out, Nolan Kelliher singled to right field. Luke Ballweg then doubled to right on a 1-0 pitch to score Kelliher and give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead.

Ballweg was caught stealing third, though, killing the Middleton rally.

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MPJ raises the bar

As the hour grew later, a buzz began circulating around the track at Middleton High School last Thursday, and the crowd grew larger and larger.

Cardinals’ senior Madeline Pflasterer-Jennerjohn was putting on a show in the pole vault, and the last thing anyone wanted was to miss it.

First, “MPJ” cleared 10-feet even, then began increasing her leaps six inches at a time. When “MPJ” went up and over 11-6, she tied her own school record much to the delight of a now jam-packed pit.

The bar immediately went to 11-9, a mark “MPJ” had yet to reach during her brilliant Middleton career. But on this gorgeous May night, “MPJ” made history by going up and over this lofty height and sending the crowd into a frenzy.

In the matter of a few short seconds, “MPJ” set a new school record, won the Middleton Sectional, and now heads to this weekend’s state tournament with the fifth-best pole vault mark in the state.

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Schmitt hurls no-hitter for Middleton

No one will ever confuse Brady Schmitt with Aroldis Chapman or Noah Syndergaard.

No, Schmitt — a junior left-handed pitcher for Middleton’s baseball team — doesn’t rely on an overpowering fastball to win his battles. Instead, Schmitt survives on movement, location, a variety of pitches and out-thinking the player he’s staring at.

Last Thursday, the ultra-crafty Schmitt was at his best and Madison East paid the price. Schmitt threw a no-hitter and led the Cardinals to an 8-1 win over the host Purgolders.

“I was really excited,” Schmitt said of the monumental feat. “It was a lot of fun.”

Amazingly, it was Schmitt’s first appearance since straining his Latissimus Dorsi muscle three weeks ago.

“It’s not a bad injury,” Middleton manager Tom Schmitt said. “It just takes time to heal. It’s a time consuming, nagging injury. It just takes time to get back.”

It didn't look like Brady Schmitt was ever away.

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Season ends for softball Cardinals

When the postseason began, Middleton girls softball coach Perry Hibner believed six teams were capable of winning his star-studded sectional.

Holmen still has a chance to do just that. Hibner and his Cardinals do not.

In a WIAA Division 1 regional final Friday, host Holmen broke a 1-1 tie with three runs in the fifth inning and two more in the sixth and went on to upend the Cardinals, 6-2.

Sixth-seeded Middleton ended the year 15-12, while third-seeded Holmen improved to 21-6.

“It was a well-played game by two very good teams,” Hibner said. “It felt like a sectional final. They just came up with a couple more plays at the key times.”

Middleton did strike first and grabbed a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Ashley Bindl walked with one out, moved to second on Rachel Everson's single to left and scored on Hanna Fisher's two-out single up the middle.


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