Softball Cards split a pair

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Katie Fermanich and Middleton’s girls softball team split a pair of games last week./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

Middleton’s girls softball team has designs on winning a Big Eight Conference championship this spring.

But if that’s going to happen, the Cardinals can’t stumble against mid-level teams inside the league.

The Cardinals did exactly what they were supposed to and rolled past Madison West, 8-2, last Tuesday. But Middleton stubbed its toe and dropped a 4-3 decision to Beloit Memorial last Thursday.

The Cardinals fell to 6-3 overall and 5-2 in the Big Eight. Middleton is now fourth in the conference standings, but just one game behind league-leading Janesville Craig (6-1, 7-2).

“The loss to Beloit was extremely disappointing,” Middleton manager Cherie Hellenbrand said. “The hits just didn't fall in the gaps. We will move forward as a team, learn and grow from it.”

Middleton played extremely well in its win over Madison West.

Rachel Everson and Shelby Ballweg both went 3-for-4 with an RBI, while Morgan Schmitt was 2-for-2 with two RBI. Katie Fermanich, Lauren Banke and Abby Henke all had two hits, as well.

Middleton finished the day with 14 hits and knocked West’s starting pitcher out after just 2 1/3 innings.

Mackenzie Kopp threw a complete game and picked up the win for Middleton. Kopp allowed two earned runs, eight hits and struck out five.

“Madison West was not a team to be overlooked,” Hellenbrand said. “The weather was also not ideal — 37 degrees and windy. 

“Every inning we had people hitting the ball and putting pressure in their defense. It's nice to see the players coming through with big hits with runners in scoring position.

“Kopp also did a great job on the mound. She stayed solid through the game and under very cold conditions.”

Middleton stumbled against Beloit, though, two nights later.

The Cardinals took a 2-0 lead in the first inning.

Fermanich led off the game with a base hit, then scored on Banke’s double. Everson followed with a single, and Banke later stole home.

Beloit answered with a run in the second inning and another to tie the game, 2-2, in the fifth. The Purple Knights then struck for two more in the sixth and surged to a 4-2 lead.

Everson belted a home run in the bottom of the sixth to pull Middleton within 4-3. But the Cardinals couldn’t produce the tying run.

Everson led the offense with a 3-for-4 afternoon. Banke started the game strong, but took a shot off her hip in the third inning, struggled the rest of the day and eventually took the loss.

“Their pitcher was not overly strong, but for the remainder of the game we continued to hit weak ground balls to their shortstop, who will most likely be first-team all-conference,” Hellenbrand said. “Beloit has a very solid infield, but we also made them do nothing more then field routine ground balls. 

“Beloit is traditionally a strong hitting team. They got the key hit when they had runners in scoring position.”

• On deck: Middleton hosted Janesville Parker in a doubleheader Tuesday, then hosts Verona Thursday at 5 p.m. The Cardinals also host Fort Atkinson Saturday at 2 p.m.

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