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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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Good, bad for tennis Cards at sectionals

On one level, Middleton sophomore Ryan Gold was extremely proud of what he’d accomplished, enormously pleased with what he’d achieved.

On the other, Gold couldn’t help but wonder what might have been.

Gold, Middleton’s No. 1 singles player, finished second at the WIAA Division 1 Waunakee Sectional held at Nielsen Tennis Stadium on Thursday. Sun Prairie’s Aiden Schutter nipped Gold in a thrilling three-set match, 6-3, 7-6 (3), 10-6 to capture the sectional title.

Gold qualified for the state tournament for a second straight year and will meet Neenah’s Evan Kubiak in a first round match Thursday at 10:30 a.m.

“I’m proud. I think I played well,” Gold said after the match. “(Schutter’s) a really good player … and that was a great match.”

As good as Gold was, his day was somewhat bittersweet.

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Girls soccer team earns No. 1 seed

Mary Duffy was awfully happy leaving the postseason seeding meeting last Wednesday.

Now, Duffy hopes to be just as happy two weeks from now.

Middleton received the No. 1 seed in its sectional and will open the postseason by hosting 16th-seeded Madison La Follette in a regional semifinal Thursday at 7 p.m. at Firefighters Park. If the Cardinals win there, they’ll host the winner of eighth-seeded Mukwonago and ninth-seeded Verona in a regional final Saturday.

The sectional semifinals are June 8, and Middleton would be the host school if it’s still alive. The sectional finals are June 10 at Sun Prairie at 7 p.m.

“I was glad leaving the (seeding) meeting … that we were able to get the first seed,” Duffy said. “It speaks to the schedule that the girls went through and their winning of the Big Eight title.

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Middleton golfers win regional title

Middleton’s boys golf team has picked the perfect time to get red hot.

The Cardinals won the WIAA Division 1 Madison Memorial Regional Tuesday held at Blackhawk Country Club.

Middleton shot a season-low 311 and easily outdistanced runner-up Waunakee (326).

“I really believe that the guys gained much confidence in the conference three-hole playoff, and they carried that into today's round,” Middleton coach Tom Cabalka said, referring to the Cardinals’ win over Verona at the Big Eight Conference meet. “A 311 was really nice team score … much improved from where we were in April.”

The top four teams at regionals advanced to next Tuesday’s Reedsburg Sectional.

In addition to Middleton and Waunakee, Madison Memorial (328) and Verona (329) also moved on to sectionals.

Middleton’s trio of seniors Ross Johnson and Colin Butler, and junior Andy Zucker all shot 76 and tied for second individually.

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Softball Cards enter playoffs on a high

The results certainly weren’t a surprise.

Now, Middleton’s girls softball team hopes to pull a few shockers in the next two weeks.

The Cardinals received the No. 6 seed in their sectional and begin the postseason against 11th-seeded Tomah on Wednesday.

If Middleton wins there, it would face the winner of third-seeded Holmen and 14th-seeded Madison West in a regional final Friday.

The sectional semifinals are May 30 and the sectional finals are June 1.

“We know we have to play four quality games to get to state, but we also believe we are more than capable of doing that,” Middleton coach Perry Hibner said. “Our approach all season long has been to go 1-0. We just need to do that four times. We think we can.”

Last week was a perfect example of just how good Middleton can be when it plays its best.

Middleton defeated Sun Prairie, 5-2, last Friday in its regular season finale.

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Boys track team wins 5th straight crown

The streak remains alive.

Middleton’s boys track and field team won its fifth consecutive Big Eight Conference championship and second straight under coach Joe Line at Mansfield Stadium last Friday night.

The Cardinals scored points in 16 of the 18 events with juniors Alec Hanson winning the pole vault and Aaron Richardson securing the long jump titles. Senior Tre Turner also tied for first-place in the 200-meter dash.

“It was something we strove for, but we knew it would be hard,” Turner said of the team title. “We’re hoping the juniors can keep it going even longer. We want to continue making history.”

Middleton’s strong distance crew, which scored 14 points in the 3,200-meter run, enabled the Cardinals to mount a late rally and wrap up the title with 138 points. Verona was second with 119 points and Sun Prairie third with 106.

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Boys golfers clinch share of Big 8

Tom Cabalka was focused on the micro, not the macro. In the end, that approach paid off in spades.

Cabalka, Middleton’s deep-rooted boys golf coach, has spent the spring completely focused on getting his Cardinals better.

Last Friday, that improvement and growth helped the Cardinals achieve one of their major goals — and caught their head coach off guard in the process.

Middleton won the hotly-contested Madison West Triangular at Odana Hills, firing a season-best 310. The Cardinals edged runner-up Janesville Parker (312) and Madison West (324).

The impressive wins helped Middleton improve to 8-1 in Big Eight Conference dual meets and tie Madison Memorial for the league title. The Spartans had dropped a dual meet earlier in the week, much to the surprise of Cabalka — who had been worried only about his Cardinals.


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