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Middleton's HTL team wins twice


Must win games in the Home Talent League are still a couple of weeks away when the playoffs begin.

But that’s not how Middleton manager Brandon Hellenbrand approached Sunday’s game with Waunakee.

“I really felt that this was a must win game for us,” Hellenbrand said.

Fortunately for Hellenbrand and his team, they delivered.

Middleton scored a pair of unearned runs in the bottom of the ninth and rallied past Waunakee, 4-3.

Middleton also hammered Richland Center, 14-4, last Friday and improved to 10-4 in the Northern Section’s East Division. Black Earth lost to Ashton Sunday, but the Bombers still lead the division at 10-3.

“I was happy with the way we swung the bat,” Hellenbrand said. “Some days you just have to keep battling and sticking with it and the big hit will happen.”

Middleton’s big hits came in the ninth.

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Middleton's best of the best

Several state tournament appearances — again.

Numerous conference championships.

Remarkable consistency throughout the athletic department.

It was another sensational year for the sports teams at Middleton High School, where the Cardinals remarkably seem to raise the bar every year.

Of course, some achievements rank as the best of the best. Here’s one person’s opinion of that list:


Girls team of the year: Golf

One year after struggling through a miserable season, Middleton’s girls golf team played with both passion and precision. The Cardinals won the Big Eight Conference dual meet championship, then won regional and sectional titles for the first time in head coach Jeff Kenas’ six years.

The Cardinals capped that with a solid showing at the WIAA Division 1 state meet and finished sixth overall.

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Sauk tops Middleton

It was ugly at the start. And it didn’t get any better by the end.

Middleton’s Home Talent League team was routed by host Sauk Prairie, 10-3, on Sunday. Middleton fell to 8-4 in the Northern Section’s East Division and now sits two games behind league-leading Black Earth.

“I feel that we played a lot better than the 10-3 score showed,” Middleton manager Brandon Hellenbrand said. “Sauk did an excellent job of putting the ball in play and making things happen.”

Sauk pounded out 20 hits against Middleton starter Drew Farrell and reliever Jeff Schafer.

Farrell threw five innings, allowed six runs. Schafer allowed four runs over the final three frames.

“Farrell threw well today, it just seemed like everything that hit their bat found a hole,” Hellenbrand said. “They really didn’t hit him all that hard, they just found the right holes.  The same thing with happened with Schafer.”

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Middleton's HTL team edges Cross Plains


Eric Simon was prepared for almost anything on a beautiful and sunny Fourth of July afternoon at Sorenson-Bakken Field.

The Home Talent League veteran started in right field and pitched the final four innings as Middleton rallied for two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning for an exciting 6-5 victory over Cross Plains in a Northern Section East Division game.

Simon scattered five hits and allowed one run with two strikeouts over the final four innings. He relieved starting right-hander Andrew Zimmerman in the sixth inning with the ‘29ers trailing 4-2.

Middleton fell to Sauk Prairie, 10-3, on Sunday, though and slipped to 8-4 in the division. And when Black Earth (10-2) won a pair of weekend games, the Bombers took control of the divisional race.

Still, Middleton’s win over Cross Plains — one its top rivals — provided plenty of fireworks.

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Girls soccer team lands 9 on all-conference team


Mary Duffy was thrilled.

And more often than not, that’s a rare feeling when coaches leave all-conference meetings.

But Duffy, Middleton’s girls soccer coach, was awfully happy with this year’s Big Eight Conference results.

The Cardinals had nine players named all-Big Eight, including four first-team all-conference selections. Middleton had one second-team pick and four honorable-mention all-conference choices.

“I am really pleased with the all conference picks,” Duffy said. “We finished third in the conference, but were able to get four players on first (team), one on second and four on honorable mention.”

Senior keeper Meghan Ledin, a University of Wisconsin recruit, led Middleton’s first-team selections. Junior forward Ellen Jesse, junior midfielder Leia Peterman and senior defender Carly Kirkpatrick were also named first-team.

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Baseball Cardinals earn honors

Middleton’s baseball team had another terrific season.

The Cardinals compiled an 18-7 overall record. Middleton finished in second place in the Big Eight Conference with a 12-6 record. And the Cardinals came within one game of reaching the state tournament.

So it was no surprise that Middleton landed seven players on the all-Big Eight Conference team.

Senior pitcher Brian Lochner, junior second baseman Luke Schafer and junior third baseman Kasey Miller were all named first-team all-conference. Senior pitcher Reese Felton was named second-team all-league, while senior first baseman Tanner Meinholz, senior center fielder Kenji Passini and junior catcher Jackson Keeler were all named honorable-mention all-conference.

Lochner compiled a 5-1 record, threw five complete games and had a stellar 1.91 ERA. Opponents batted just .230 off of Lochner and had an on-base percentage of .297.

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Soccer Cards will be loaded in 2014


MILWAUKEE — Perhaps 2013 will prove to be the appetizer.

Maybe the main dish will be served in 2014.

Middleton’s girls soccer team was a surprise qualifier for this year’s WIAA Division 1 state tournament. But the Cardinals were a relatively young team, and could be even more dangerous next year.

“We should be really good again,” Middleton coach Mary Duffy said. “We’ll have a lot of talent back.”

The Cardinals say goodbye to a gifted seven-person senior class.

Keeper Meghan Ledin, a University of Wisconsin recruit, led that group. Ledin posted eight shutouts this year and had a goals against average of just 0.83.

The rest of the senior class included forward Shannon McCauley, midfielders Ryleigh Wolff, Jocelyn Tiedt and Cassidi Goll, and defenders Carly Kirkpatrick and Bridget Arnold.

“We had a really good group of seniors,” Middleton junior midfielder Caroline Keenan said. “But we should have a great group coming back.”

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Four softball Cardinals named all-Big 8


Middleton’s girls softball team landed four players on the all-Big Eight Conference team.

Senior center fielder Emily Pomykalski and senior second baseman Leah Wolff were both named first-team all-conference. Freshman first baseman Shelby Ballweg was named second-team all-league, while junior shortstop Ashley Brooks was named honorable-mention all-conference.

Pomykalski, a four-year varsity player, had another terrific season.

Pomykalski batted .296 and led Middleton with 19 RBI. Pomykalski also had a .378 on base percentage and a .479 slugging percentage.

Pomykalski, a co-captain, will play collegiately at UW-La Crosse beginning next year.

“She’s very natural in the outfield,” Middleton coach Arin Oppermann said. “She plays with confidence and makes tough catches look easy.

“She has an extremely strong arm and has no problem throwing girls out at home from center field, which she made a habit of doing this year.”

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Soccer Cardinals fall at state

MILWAUKEE — It was early Thursday evening and Middleton’s girls soccer team gathered on a hill overlooking Uihlein Soccer Park.

Some cried. Some sat and stared quietly.

And others were quick to appreciate the magical year they just experienced.

“I guess just making it here was great,” said Middleton junior forward Caroline Keenan, after the Cardinals dropped a 2-1 decision to Waukesha West in the WIAA Division 1 state quarterfinals.

“Making state was a goal. It’s a shame we couldn't advance, but making state is something we talked about all season. We all were hoping we could make it further, but it was a great run.”

Indeed it was.

Middleton, a No. 5 seed in its sectional, stunned most of the state by simply making it this far. But the Cardinals’ surprise journey ended at the hands of the experienced and powerful Wolverines.

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Middleton kicks its way to state

VERONA — Middleton girls soccer coach Mary Duffy would have gladly taken one save.

Cardinals keeper Meghan Ledin scoffed at that concept.

“The goal is always one save,” said Ledin, a University of Wisconsin recruit. “But I always want to do better than that.”

She did. And now the Cardinals are headed to the WIAA Division 1 state tournament for the first time since 2007.

Middleton and Oregon played 100 minutes of scoreless soccer in last Saturday’s sectional final. The game then went to a shootout, where Ledin put on her Wonder Woman cape.

Ledin stopped a remarkable four-of-four penalty shots as the Cardinals toppled Oregon, 2-0, in penalty kicks. Middleton (14-4-4) will now face Waukesha West (17-4) in a state quarterfinal Thursday at 5 p.m. at Uihlein Soccer Park in Milwaukee.

“Whenever Meghan is in goal, we have so much confidence,” said senior defender Bridget Arnold. “She’s just amazing. We’re thankful she’s on our team.”


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