Softball Cards enter playoffs on a high

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MTT News's picture
Rob Reischel
Sophie Schafer and Middleton's girls softball team are the No. 6 seed in their sectional./Times-Tribune photo by Mary Langenfeld

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.

Middleton’s win forced Sun Prairie to share the Big Eight Conference title with Janesville Craig. Each team finished league play at 16-2, while Verona was third at 14-4 and Middleton was fourth at 13-5.

“We've talked all year long about controlling the things we can control and taking care of the little things and it was great to see us do that against Sun Prairie,” Hibner said. “We didn't play perfect, but we battled through adversity and we kept the pressure on them throughout.

“(Sun Prairie) is the top-seeded team in our sectional and one of the top teams in the state. I think the girls now believe if they focus and do their jobs we can play with anyone.”

Senior Rachel Everson led the way with four hits, including a triple and two doubles. Senior Makenzie Kopp pitched a complete game, striking out four and not walking a batter.

Everson’s one-out double to left-center in the first inning gave the Cardinals a 1-0 lead. Sophie Schafer scored in the second on a wild pitch and another Everson double to left-center with two outs drove in Molly Trehey and made it 3-0.

Everson led off the fifth with a triple down the right field line and scored on Jessica Parente’s single up the middle to push the lead to 4-0. The Cardinals made it 5-0 in the sixth when Everson singled past the first baseman to score Trehey. 

“Rachel was locked in and it was fantastic to see her smash the ball the way she did,” Hibner said. “It didn't matter where they pitched her, she was going to smoke it.”

Meanwhile, Kopp allowed only three hits through five innings. Sun Prairie loaded the bases with two outs in the sixth, but Kopp got Erin Vertz to ground back to her to end the threat. 

Sun Prairie finally broke through in the seventh, but Skylar Muller grounded out to Rachel Roberts at second to end the game.

Hibner also praised junior catcher Hannah Edington, who stepped in for the injured Brianna Buss (arm).

“Hannah did a great job defensively,” Hibner said. “Plus she came through with two more hits. I'm really proud of the way she performed and we needed it.”

The Cardinals split home games earlier in the week, beating Madison La Follette, 7-3, on Tuesday and losing to Beloit Memorial, 6-4, on Thursday.

Senior Sara Wettstein hit a bases-clearing double to key a six-run fourth against the Lancers, while Lauren Banke added four hits, including a solo home run. Kopp struck out seven to pick up the complete game victory.

“We weren't as sharp as we wanted to be, especially at the plate,” Hibner said. “I think the players realize we can’t play like that against the top teams and expect to win.”

The Cardinals also struggled at the plate against Beloit Memorial, but still led 3-0 after five innings. Everson had a sacrifice fly and Parente added an RBI single in the first. Banke's double to right scored Roberts in the fifth to make it 3-0.

The Purple Knights closed within 3-2 in the sixth on pinch-hitter Jacey Walker's two-out, two-run double to right. Middleton added a run in the bottom of the inning on Buss' sacrifice fly, which scored Parente.

But Beloit Memorial scored four runs in the seventh on three hits and a walk. Middleton twice had the tying run at the plate, but couldn’t knot the score.

“We had way too many mental errors,” Hibner said. “We twice ran ourselves into trouble. We missed signs. We made bad decisions with the ball. The girls expect more of themselves and so do the coaches. We'll learn from it.”


May 19

Middleton 5, Sun Prairie 2

Middleton ........... 120 011 0 — 5 9 3

Sun Prairie .......... 000 000 2 — 2 7 2

Pitchers (ip-h-er-bb-so) — M: Kopp (W; 7-6-1-0-4); SP: Gardner (L; 4.1-7-4-2-2), Lane (2.2-4-1-0-2).

Leading hitters — M: Everson 4x4, Edington 2x3; SP: Tews 2x4. 2B — Everson 2; Bindl (M); Herwig; Ek (SP). 3B — Everson (M).


May 18

Beloit Memorial 6, Middleton 4

Beloit ……………….. 000 002 4 — 6 6 0

Middleton …………. 200 011 0 — 4 9 2

Pitchers (ip-h-er-bb-so) — BM: Brown (5-7-3-0-2), Mechanic (W; 2-2-1-1-0). M: Kopp (L; 7-6-6-5-4)

Leading hitters — BM: Bittner 2x3; M: Banke 3x4, Bindl 2x4, Parente 2x3. 2B — Walker (BM); Banke 3 (M).


May 16

Middleton 7, Madison La Follette 3

La Follette ………….. 011 100 0 — 3 7 2

Middleton ………….. 000 610 x — 7 9 2

Pitchers (ip-h-er-bb-so) – MLF: Ponty (L; 6-9-7-4-1); Mi: Kopp (W; 7-7-2-1-6).

Leading hitters – MLF: Schultz 2x4; Mi: Banke 3x4, Everson 2x4, Parente 2x4. 2B – Jager, Tuner, White (MLF); Parente. HR – Banke (Mi).

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