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Softball Cards hope for better days


The complete turnaround didn’t happen, as hoped.

Oh, Middleton’s girls softball team made some strides this spring. But Cardinals coach Arin Oppermann and her team know there’s a lot of work to be done to become a Big Eight Conference power again.

“This season we had a lot of ups and downs,” Oppermann said. “We are a very capable team and played very well against some of the better teams in the conferences

“I think that if we play like we did against those teams consistently next year, we're going to come out ahead more often than not.”

Middleton finished the year 9-10 overall and lost a regional semifinal to DeForest, 6-5. The Cardinals were also 9-9 in the Big Eight Conference and finished in fifth place.

The Cardinals did heat up down the stretch and carried a four-game winning streak into the postseason. But the Cardinals lost their playoff opener for a second straight year.

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Boys track team wins Big Eight

The Big Eight Conference track and field meet was still 24 hours away. And Middleton coach Isaac Mezera was in the mood for a little visualization.
Mezera gathered his team at the small gym inside Middleton High School and had them picture what lied ahead.

“I shut the lights off and walked them through the meet, including Middleton being announced as conference champions,” Mezera said.

Perhaps seeing is achieving.

Middleton went to the conference tournament and put on a show. The Cardinals scored 148 points to easily outdistance runner-up Madison La Follette (113) and the rest of the field to win the Big Eight title.

It was Middleton’s first conference championship since 2004 and just the second league title in school history.

The event began last Tuesday, but was postponed until Wednesday due to lightning.

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Girls track team 2nd at Big 8 meet

The wait was long, painful and annoying.

In the end, though, Middleton’s girls track and field team overcame the excruciating delay.

The Big Eight Conference track and field meet — which was supposed to take place last Tuesday — was delayed halfway through due to lightning. But Middleton never missed a beat.

When the meet resumed Wednesday, the Cardinals made a statement and finished second in the league.

Sun Prairie won the title with 144.50 points, while Middleton was a close second at 134.50. Madison West and Janesville Craig tied for third with 80 points.

“Besides the obvious frustration of waiting to complete the conference meet, we were thrilled with the outcome,” Middleton coach Tara Franklin said. “I was hesitant to say early in the season where we may end up — and was being optimistic when we were aiming for top-three finish at conference.”

Franklin’s optimism came to fruition, though.

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Softball Cardinals ousted

The end of the road came sooner than anyone hoped.

Middleton’s girls softball team, which appeared to be getting hot at just the right time, saw its season end Tuesday afternoon.

The Cardinals fell to DeForest, 6-5, in a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal.

Middleton entered as the 12th seed in the sectional, while DeForest was seeded fifth. And while the Cardinals put a scare into the Norskies, they couldn't seal the deal.

Middleton took a 3-0 lead in the top of the third inning. But the Norskies scored two in the bottom of the frame and three more in the fourth to surge to a 5-3 lead.

DeForest led, 6-3, in the top of the seventh when Middleton struck for two runs. But the Cardinals couldn’t produce the tying run.

Middleton finished the year 9-10 and 9-9 in the Big Eight Conference.

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Soccer Cardinals heating up

The postseason is just around the corner.

And Middleton’s girls soccer team has picked the perfect time to get red hot.

The Cardinals went 3-0-1 in the past week and haven’t lost in their last six outings. Here’s a recap of Middleton’s past week.

• Middleton 5, Madison  La Follette 0 — The Cardinals got goals from five different players and routed the Lancers Monday night.

Brenna Shea struck first in the ninth minute and Middleton’s lead remained 1-0 until the second half. Then the Cardinals exploded.

In a 15-minute span, Shannon McCauley, Megan Sullivan and Macey Kalscheur all scored. Kaitlyn Wolfinger then added a late goal as the Cardinals cruised.

• Middleton 1, DSHA 0 — Shea scored on a gorgeous feed from Leia Peterman and the Cardinals beat the powerful Dashers Saturday afternoon.

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Tennis Cardinals win Big 8

Ben Luskin plopped on a chair in the lower level of Nielsen Tennis Stadium last Thursday afternoon.

Middleton’s junior standout grabbed a bag of ice, applied it to his painful right elbow, and took a moment to enjoy the temporary relief.

“The icing numbs it,” Luskin said. “It really helps.”

Luskin needed every last cube on an afternoon where his mental toughness and perseverance were impressive.

Despite painful tendinitis in his elbow, Luskin rallied and reached the finals of the Big Eight Conference tournament at No. 1 singles. And while Luskin lost in the title match to Verona’s Andrew Argall, his path there was inspirational.

Luskin’s performance — and a solid showing from the rest of the Cardinals — helped Middleton win the league title for the fourth time in five years. Middleton finished with 46 points, while Madison West (41) and Verona (36) were second and third, respectively.

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Golfers third at regionals

It’s been a year filled with turbulence for Middleton’s boys golf team.

But as the Cardinals’ plane nears its touchdown, perhaps they’ve found a level of serenity.

The Cardinals finished third at the Middleton Regional Tuesday held at Pleasant View. Middleton advanced to the Sparta Sectional, which will be held Tuesday at River Run Golf Course beginning at 9 a.m.

Madison Memorial won the regional with a 312 team score, while Verona (319), Middleton (320) and Stoughton (325) also advanced to sectionals.

The top two teams at the eight-team Sparta Sectional will advance to the state tournament June 3-4.

“Anything can happen in one 18-hole tournament,” Middleton coach Tom Cabalka said. “Our goal was to get to the Sparta sectional and play well.

“We know the course and played well at the Sparta Invite earlier this spring. We don't have to win it. We have to be better than six other teams.”

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Felton, Cardinals get their groove on

Middleton manager Tom Schmitt has had a stable of pitching arms to choose from this spring.

But settling on a second starter to pair with Brian Lochner hasn’t been easy.

Last Thursday, that search came to a close.

Middleton senior Reese Felton had his second straight sensational performance and led the Cardinals to a 4-1 win over Janesville Craig.

Felton threw a complete game, three-hitter, struck out seven and walked five. In Felton’s previous outing, he threw a no-hitter against Verona in which he struck out nine and walked nine.

So in Felton’s last two stints, he’s worked 14 innings, allowed one earned run and has an 0.50 earned run average. Felton has also given up just three hits and struck out 16 in that time.

“Yep, I think he’s the guy,” Schmitt said of Felton. “We always knew he was capable, but the issue was consistency. But right now he’s really got it going.”

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Golfers third at conference

It wasn’t the final result that Middleton’s boys golf team wanted.

But there were signs of progress and traces of hope.

And that certainly bodes well for what lies ahead.

The Cardinals finished third at the Big Eight Conference meet Thursday at Evansville Golf Course. Verona won the meet at 308, while Madison Memorial was second at 310 and Middleton was third at 314.

“I was very pleased with a 314,” Middleton coach Tom Cabalka said. “That is a good team score on that golf course. Evansville makes players think and use all your clubs in the bag.”

Middleton junior Josh Haunty and freshman Emmet Herb both had outstanding days, carding 76s and tying for fourth overall. Verona’s Caleb Baltes won medalist honors with a 72.

Haunty recently moved to No. 1 in Middleton’s lineup and showed why.

“I have played him as our No. 1 the last couple matches and he has responded well in that position,” Cabalka said.

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Middleton's Felton hurls no-hitter


Reese Felton has spent the last several seasons as a closer.

That’s what happens when you can throw a baseball 85 miles per hour.

Last Friday, though, Felton started, finished, and dominated in between against Verona.

And when Felton’s 136-pitch night had ended, Middleton’s senior right hander had accomplished something most pitchers can only dream of.

Felton threw the first no-hitter of his life and powered the Cardinals to an 8-1 win over the Wildcats at Middleton High School.

Felton’s big night came on the eve of his 18th birthday.

“A teammate of mine mentioned it in the second inning, which we all know we’re not supposed to do,” Felton said of the no-hitter. “But I didn't really take him or the possibility of the no hitter seriously until the sixth inning.

“It only became hard to stay focused at the end of the seventh inning when we had two outs. I just wanted to get the last one.”


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