Sports

Thu
19
Apr
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'Strike Out Cancer' game a hit

For the fifth consecutive year, Big Eight Conference rivals Middleton and Sun Prairie faced off for their “Cardinals Strike Out Cancer” baseball game in an effort to raise money for pediatric cancer research. Each year the teams have raised more than $10,000 to benefit the American Family Children’s Hospital.

The chilly temperatures did not stop fans from coming out in droves last Thursday to Middleton to support the cause again this year, as the teams, sponsors, and fans raised in excess of $10,000 once again.

Cancer survivor Matt Esser, who is currently a junior in the MIddleton baseball program, threw out the first pitch for Middleton. Eighteen-month old Rylee Payne, who is currently battling neuroblastoma, threw out the first pitch along with her parents Kate and Tyler Payne. Each team also had a bat-kid representative, with kindergartener Ilya Levchenko representing Middleton and second-grader Olivia Diaz representing Sun Prairie.

Wed
11
Apr
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Lousy spring has teams yelling “No más”

In 1980, when boxing still mattered to much of the nation, Roberto Durán was the welterweight champion of the world.

During a memorable title fight against Sugar Ray Leonard held at the Louisiana Superdome, Leonard put on a show with his remarkable speed and movement and dominated Duran. In the closing moments of the eighth round, Duran turned to referee Octavio Meyran and said, “No más.”

In Spanish that means, “no more.”

Today, coaches throughout the state are looking outside or staring up at the sky and yelling, “No más” themselves.

Spring sports in Wisconsin are always tricky with cold temperatures, nasty winds and lousy field conditions. But a winter that simply will not end — and dumped more snow on the area last week — has made things far tougher than usual.

And coaches everywhere are throwing their hands up in frustration and begging Mother Nature to back off.

Wed
11
Apr
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Middleton golfers gifted, but inexperienced

If there was ever a team that needed every minute of available practice time, it was the 2018 Middleton boys’ golf team.

The Cardinals return just one proven golfer from a year ago in senior Andy Zucker. Middleton has three seniors to replace and at least eight candidates that will be fighting for open positions.

But Mother Nature chose not to cooperate. And over the first week-and-a-half, Middleton’s golfers made it outside just once.

“We’re going to be good with our rules,” Cardinals coach Tom Cabalka quipped.

Now, Cabalka’s Cardinals will try becoming on the course, as well.

Like every other school in Wisconsin, the never-ending winter wreaked havoc with the start of Middleton’s season. The difference is with a young and unproven roster, Middleton needed the early practice rounds far more than a veteran team with an established lineup.

Wed
11
Apr
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MHS' boys tennis team thinking big

For the majority of this century, Middleton’s boys tennis team has been a fixture at the state team tennis tournament.

The Cardinals have been to the state team tournament 11 times since 2000. And in that time, Middleton has four state runner-up finishes to its credit.

The Cardinals failed to reach the state meet last year, finishing third at the Waunakee Sectional. But with a deep and gifted squad coming back, Middleton has its sights set on another trip to state this spring.

Middleton is scheduled to begin its year Friday at Milwaukee Marquette.

“In order for us to have a chance to win conference and sectionals and advance to team state everyone has to pull their weight,” said Middleton second-year coach Kalla Schaefer. “No spot is a given win, because of how tight the top conference teams all are. No one can count on other spots to get the win because when those deciding matches come at 3-3 that could be at any spot.”

Thu
05
Apr
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Soccer Cards have high hopes

The end is never easy.

It’s even worse when you dominate a competition throughout, yet still fall short on the scoreboard.

That happened to Middleton’s girls’ soccer team last year, when it controlled play against Verona in a regional final, yet dropped a 1-0 decision.

The Cardinals return a deep and gifted team this spring. Middleton’s combination of talent and its desire to return to state for the first time since 2013 will drive the Cardinals this year.

Middleton, which opened the year ranked No. 7 in the Wisconsin Soccer Coaches Association poll, begins its new season Friday. The Cardinals will compete at the Madison Memorial Invite at Woodside Sports Complex in Wisconsin Dells beginning at 5 p.m.

Sat
31
Mar
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Baseball Cardinals hope for big year

One of Tom Schmitt’s favorite pictures is from 2003.

Schmitt, Middleton’s rookie manager at the time, had just led the Cardinals to the WIAA Division 1 state championship. And there’s a shot of young Brady Schmitt, who was just 3 at the time, with a baseball from the title game and Tom with the state championship trophy.

Brady is all grown up now and one of the leaders of the 2018 Cardinals. And there’s nothing Tom Schmitt would like better than to win another championship with his youngest son playing a key role.

“That would be a storybook ending,” Tom Schmitt said.

While the odds of winning a title for any team are slim, Middleton should be poised for a big season.

The Cardinals went 9-9 in the Big Eight Conference and 13-14 overall last year. But Middleton improved dramatically as the season went on, won six of its last eight games, and reached the sectional semifinals before dropping a 2-1 decision to Tomah.

Sat
24
Mar
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No respect? No worries for softball Cards

Perry Hibner is just fine in the Rodney Dangerfield role.

Hibner, Middleton’s third-year girls softball coach, knows that most pundits won’t pick his Cardinals to win the Big Eight Conference this spring.

But Hibner doesn’t mind the Dangerfield-like, “no respect” treatment.

“We will be in the mix,” Hibner insisted. “I don't think anyone will pick us to win the conference, but that's OK. Games aren't won on paper. I know we will improve and I feel like we can play with anyone in the Big Eight.”

There are a number of reasons for Hibner and the Cardinals to be so optimistic.

It starts with first baseman Jessica Parente, catcher Brianna Buss and third baseman Ashley Bindl, who all received all-conference honors last year.

Parente, a first-team all-Big Eight Conference player, was second on the team last year with a .446 batting average. Parente led the Cardinals with 20 RBI, was third with nine doubles and had one home run.

Sat
24
Mar
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Boys track team wants to keep the bar high

They’ve won the Big Eight Conference meet five years in a row.

They have three top-five finishes at state in that time and four top-20 showings.

Middleton’s boys track and field team has been a model of excellence in recent years. And the Cardinals, who begin their season Saturday at the Ripon Invite, expect more of the same this spring.

“We expect to win conference and have a strong showing at state,” Middleton coach Joe Line said. “Our main goal is to work hard, but to stay healthy as well.”

Middleton’s only finish outside the top-20 at state since 2013 came a year ago, when the Cardinals were 28th. But several Middleton athletes were injured, a major reason why the Cardinals’ slipped at state. 

Sat
24
Mar
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Girls track team aiming high

Strength in numbers.

That’s what Middleton’s girls’ track and field team is hoping for this spring.

The Cardinals have a record 112 girls out for track. And when Middleton begins its season Saturday at the Ripon Invite, the Cardinals hope their large crew will embark on a special season

“I’ve been going through old track results and 20 years ago (1998 season) there was about 30 girls on the team,” Middleton coach Cory Christnovich. “That is a huge jump in numbers, but a testament to the previous athletes and coaches that have made Middleton track and field the success it is.”

The Cardinals have become one of the top programs in the state over the past two decades. And Middleton could be poised for big things again this spring.

The Cardinals were fourth at the Big Eight Conference meet last season and 57th at state. But Christnovich believes his team is ready to jump up several notches.

Thu
15
Mar
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Hall comes calling for Kind

Jeff Kind was a first-year teacher at Cuba City back in 1978. And due to the diminutive nature of his paycheck, Kind signed up for as many coaching jobs inside the building as he could find.

“Freshman football, freshman boys basketball and assistant baseball … and my contract to teach and coach all of those was for $9,400,” Kind recalled. “When I got my first job at Cuba City, it was almost a necessity because they paid you so poorly.”

Coaching has always been a labor of love for Kind, who found his calling in girls basketball and has been Middleton’s head coach since 1992.

The game has always loved him back, as well. And recently, Kind received the ultimate prize.

Kind was named to the Wisconsin Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame. There will be a ceremony on Sept. 29 at The Wilderness in Wisconsin Dells.

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