Sports

Wed
18
May
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BIGGER THAN BASEBALL

SUN PRAIRIE — Easton Zempel wants to make one thing clear.

“Losing sucks,” Middleton’s ace right hander said.

When Zempel and his teammates examined the big picture, though, perhaps Middleton’s 3-0 loss to host Sun Prairie Tuesday afternoon stung a bit less.

But only a bit.

Middleton and Sun Prairie took part in the eighth annual Strike Out Cancer game held at Summit Field.

The teams raised more than $117,000 for American Family Children’s Hospital pediatric cancer research during their first seven years. And after a banner fundraising year in 2022, that number jumped to more than $150,000.

Afterwards, Middleton manager Brent Jorgensen was bummed by the loss. But he also realized the greater good Middleton and Sun Prairie had just been part of.

Wed
11
May
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HTL teams ready to roll

Play ball.

The Home Talent League kicks off another season this weekend with league managers and players, umpires and fans ready for business as usual after surviving the COVID-19 pandemic.

Wisconsin's largest adult amateur baseball league, the south-central based Home Talent League started in 1929 and will field 42 teams for its Sunday League this season.

Middleton manager Brandon Hellenbrand said after two years of uncertainly and a few changes, there is a lot of excitement for baseball to be back beginning on Sunday.

“Overall, everybody’s excited to get back to baseball, that’s for sure,” said Hellenbrand, who played 11 seasons in the league and is in his 11th season as manager of the 29ers. “The feeling is everything is getting back to basically being normal for us.

Wed
11
May
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Craig tops baseball Cards — twice

Middleton’s baseball team had a chance — make that two chances — to grab control of the Big Eight Conference race last week.

Instead, the Cardinals dropped a pair of heartbreaking, nailbiters to Janesville Craig.

The Cougars defeated the Cardinals, 4-2, in Middleton on May 4. One night later, Craig rallied for a 7-6 win in nine innings.

The Cougars now sit atop the conference with a 10-2 mark and are 11-3 overall. Middleton (9-3, 12-4) and Sun Prairie (8-2, 10-3) are tied for second in the league, both one game behind the Cougars.

Here’s a recap of Middleton’s games with Craig and its win over Beloit Memorial last Friday:

• Janesville Craig 4, Middleton 2 — Craig junior Aiden Schenk went the distance and earned the win as the Cougars prevailed in Middleton. Schenk allowed eight hits, but struck out eight and worked out of trouble throughout.

Wed
11
May
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Baseball Cardinals top Spartans

On a beautiful, sun-splashed Saturday afternoon last weekend, the Middleton Cardinals took full advantage of the 60-degree temperatures to cap a tough week with a bounce-back victory.

Senior right-handers JT Hockers and Caden Gmur combined on a three-hitter, and senior center fielder Matthew Zimmerman powered the offense with three hits to lead Middleton to a 3-1 victory over Madison Memorial in a Big Eight prep baseball game.

“This was a perfect day for baseball,” Zimmerman said with a smile. “When it’s 11 a.m. and 60 degrees, sunny, you can’t ask for much more than that. You really can’t.”

The victory completed a season-sweep for Middleton (12-4 overall, 9-3 Big Eight) over Memorial (9-5, 7-5). Middleton earned a 14-7 road victory over the Spartans on April 29.

Wed
11
May
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Softball Cards survive wild week

The weather has finally improved.

And that means Middleton’s girls softball team has been among the busiest athletes in the school.

The Cardinals had five games last week and went 3-2 overall.

Middleton is now 11-6 overall and 10-3 in the Big Eight, which is good for second place.

Here’s a recap of the Cardinals’ week:

• Stevens Point 17, Middleton 4 (6) — The Pointers pounded out 14 hits and rolled past the Cardinals in a non-conference game on May 2. Stevens Point scored eight runs in the sixth and the game was stopped early due to the 10-run mercy rule.

“We try to play a very tough non-conference schedule, knowing the competition we see each and every day in the Big Eight,” Middleton coach Brittany Carl said. “SPASH is a perennial powerhouse that's well coached, very disciplined and aggressive at the plate.

Wed
11
May
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MHS golfers still perfect in Big 8

Middleton’s boys golf team remained perfect in the Big Eight Conference last week by winning the Sun Prairie Triangular.

But Cardinals’ coach Tom Cabalka knows his team has much work to do if it hopes to still be playing in early-June.

“To be a participant at state, we need to be more consistent, confident and go out and have fun,” Cabalka said. “Our guys at times, I feel are pressing which is not a good thing on a golf course.

“Every golfer has some bad shots, even the best players and our kids need to understand that a couple poor shots in a round should not necessarily determine the final score. Some of our guys need to learn to bounce back from bad shots, and not compound the situation by not looking forward to the next shot.”

Middleton played well enough to topple both Verona and Sun Prairie at the triangular.

Middleton fired a 318, while Verona was second at 328 and Sun Prairie was third (338).

Wed
11
May
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Girls track team has solid week

Middleton’s girls track and field team competed in a pair of high-level invites last week. And the Cardinals felt awfully good about how they performed and where their season is headed.

Middleton finished in 11th-place at the star-studded, 33-team Myrhum Invite held at Hartland Arrowhead last Saturday. Middleton also finished in 11th place at the 12-team Stoughton Invite last Friday.

The Cardinals split their top performers between the two events, or Middleton felt it could have fared even better.

“Overall very happy with both meets,” Middleton coach Jay Schweitzer said. “The team is performing strong at the right time of the year. Lots of positives to take into conference week.”

At the Myrhum Invite, Lauren Pansegrau won the 3,200-meter run in 10 minutes, 40.56 seconds.

“Lauren again shined in the 3,200 and ran a near meet record and looked solid winning that event,” Schweitzer said.

Wed
11
May
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Girls soccer splits a pair at Brookfield East

The Al Gusho Invite held at Brookfield East High School traditionally includes some of the top girls soccer teams in the state.

This year was no different, and the fact Middleton was able to earn a split had the Cardinals feeling OK about where they’re headed.

Middleton opened with a 1-0 win over Neenah last Friday. DePere then edged the Cardinals, 1-0, last Saturday.

Middleton had a sensational start against Neenah and struck just 4 minutes into the game. Sam Von Ruden had a strong wing run, then Devan Utter cut across the goal face, and tapped it towards the goal at the same time as she was tackled by her defender and the goalie. 

Utter’s shot bounced off the goalie and into the net giving Middleton a 1-0 lead. 

Thu
05
May
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Baseball Cardinals keep on rolling

Survival of the fittest.

That’s what many spring sports might turn into over the next few weeks.

After rain, wind, sleet and snow have caused postponements of games for more than a month now, teams everywhere have been forced to jam additional games into a tiny window.

Right now, though, Middleton’s baseball team is doing a tremendous job of handling the additional workload. The Cardinals played games on five straight days last week and went an impressive 4-1.

“It was a long week of baseball, but our guys did a great job of staying focused in the moment of each game,” Middleton manager Brent Jorgensen said. “We also had a few moments that really tested us as a team.”

Middleton defeated Milton, 5-0, on April 25 and fell to Verona, 13-8, on April 26. The Cardinals rolled past Beloit Memorial, 11-0 on April 27 and turned the tables on Verona with a 5-0 win on April 28.

Thu
05
May
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Golfers hitting their stride

Tom Cabalka knows all of the parts are there.

Getting them to fit together — and having them all perform at the same time — has been a little trickier.

Cabalka, Middleton’s boys golf coach, has one of the more gifted groups in the state. But getting the Cardinals to shine at the same time has been a hit-and-miss deal.

Last week was the perfect example.

Middleton played sensational golf and won the 21-team Madison Edgewood Invite held at Blackhawk Country Club on April 25. The Cardinals had a solid day and were fourth at the Onalaska Invite on April 29.

Middleton then struggled through some brutal conditions and finished in 12th place at the MACC Fund Invitational last Saturday at Erin Hills Golf Course.

“Inconsistency by all of our players has been the biggest issue,” Cabalka said. “It's been like riding big waves on an ocean, some very good highs and some pretty big lows. 

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