Afternoon State Sports Briefs: WIAC hockey schools to withdraw from NCHA after 2013 seasonWisconsin Sports
-- Five WIAC hockey programs will withdraw from the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association a year earlier than originally planned.
Five WIAC hockey programs will withdraw from the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association a year earlier than originally planned.
Both conferences announced this morning that UW-Eau Claire, River Falls, Stevens Point, Stout, and Superior will leave the NCHA after next March instead of in the spring of 2014. Officials say the men’s hockey scheduling rotation will be completed next spring, and so will the four-year women’s rotation. And both leagues say there would be scheduling problems in the five UW schools waited until 2014 to withdraw from the NCHA, as first announced in February. In a joint statement, the commissioners of both leagues said a 2013 cut-off would help both leagues stabilize their memberships sooner – and the affected schools can work out new long-term scheduling arrangements. The five WIAC schools compete in their own group, as well as the larger NCHA – but WIAC Commissioner Gary Karner has said there are budgeting and logistical issues. And that’s why the five schools will only compete under the WIAC banner after the next hockey season.
This year’s Milwaukee Bucks will be remembered for beating bad teams and falling to better ones. When they beat Toronto at home last night, Milwaukee improved to 22-4 against teams below .500. But with two games left, the Bucks are just 9-29 against those above .500. And that’s a big reason Milwaukee failed to make the playoffs. Two-thirds of those answering a Journal Sentinel online poll say coach Scott Skiles or general manager John Hammond should be fired – or both. But to be fair, Hammond has spent his entire four years in Milwaukee dampening the effects of previous bloated salaries, so he could create salary cap room to sign a top-notch player. And thanks to Skiles, there’s no longer widespread talk that the Bucks are “tanking” games to get a shot at the top overall draft pick in the lottery. After last night, Skiles said he was very disappointed about not returning to the post-season for the first time in two years. And he said his players should also be hanging their heads. That’s despite the fact that the Bucks would have faced the Chicago Bulls in the first round, and run the risk of playing at least two home games before crowds full of Chicago fans. That’s what happened during the regular season, when the Bucks went 0-4 against the Bulls. Guard Brandon Jennings said the Bucks will be a better team next year with Ellis around for a full season and whoever they get in the draft. Jennings said quote, “I’m excited for the future.” The Bucks host Philadelphia tomorrow night.
The Green Bay Packers announced their schedule today for this summer’s public workouts, training camp, and other events. After the NFL Draft this weekend, a rookie camp will take place May 11th-through-13th. That’s closed to the public. But the Packers will open three of their organized team activities to fans on May 22nd, May 30th, and June fifth. The team’s mandatory mini-camp for all players will take place June 12th, 13th, and 14th – and all those sessions will be open. The Packers’ annual stockholders’ meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, July 24th at Lambeau Field. Players will report to training camp on July 25th, and the first practice at camp will be held the 26th. All public practices will take place outdoors across from Lambeau, weather permitting. Also, the Packers’ Tailgate Tour will take place May 15th through 19th throughout Wisconsin. Donald Driver’s charity softball game will be played June third at Fox Cities’ Stadium near Appleton. And the Packers’ Hall-of-Fame induction dinner is planned for July 21st.
University of Wisconsin will play two Saturday night football games this fall. The Big Ten said today that the Badgers will host Utah State on September 15th at 7 p.m. on the Big Ten Network. And the Badgers will make their first trip to Nebraska the night of September 29th on ABC or an ESPN network. The Badgers said no additional night games will be scheduled beyond the current two. Last year, Wisconsin played five times at night – and they’re 12-4 under the lights in coach Bret Bielema’s six seasons.
The Milwaukee Brewers will try to beat the Houston Astros for the 11th straight time tonight in Game-Two of their three-game series at Miller Park. The Brewers 8-9 overall, and they’re 5-5 at home. But Milwaukee has a five-game home winning streak against the Astros – and they haven’t lost to Houston anywhere since May first of last season. National League MVP Ryan Braun broke out of a 2-for-20 slump of the Brew Crew last night, by going 3-for-4, falling a triple short of the cycle, and hitting his third homer of the year. Braun has a solid .351 career batting average against the Astros. And he’s hitting .384 in 35 career contests against Houston at Miller Park. Braun is 6-for-20 lifetime against tonight’s scheduled starter for the ‘Stros, Bud Norris. Houston’s Jordan Schafer has reached base in all 17 games this season.
The Brewers have sent right-hander Wily Peralta back to Triple-“A” Nashville. He was called up last week to temporarily replace Kameron Loe, who was on bereavement leave for the funeral of his grandfather in California. Peralta made his big league debut last Sunday, giving up a run on three hits in one inning of relief. He had a strikeout – as well as a fastball at 97-miles-an-hour. Peralta will make his next start for Nashville on Thursday.
UW-Milwaukee captured two of the Horizon League’s three baseball player-of-the-week honors. Senior first baseman Paul Hoenecke was named the top position player. Junior Cale Tassi of UWM was a co-pitcher-of-the-week, along with Brown Deer native Kevin Wild of Valparaiso. Hoenecke batted .500 as Milwaukee went 3-1 last week. Tassi struck out a career-high 10 batters in a victory over Youngstown State, while reducing his league-leading ERA to 2.55. And Wild threw a 1-0 shutout over Butler in which he gave up four hits and three walks.
Alex Raver of Wisconsin Lutheran has been named the baseball pitcher-of-the-week in the Northern Athletics Conference. Raver, a sophomore right-hander, threw a five-hitter and struck out six in a 2-1 Lutheran victory over then 23rd-ranked Aurora. Dan Eichholzer of Concordia-Chicago was named the NAC’s top position player. Also, Amanda Markham of Wisconsin Lutheran was named the women’s track-and-field athlete of the week. The freshman won the 100-and-400 meter hurdles at the Saint Norbert Invitational, setting new school records in both events. Markham also set a new conference mark in the 100-hurdles, with a time of 15-point-52 seconds. Milwaukee native Merrell Davis, who runs for Concordia-Chicago, was named the top male track athlete. He won the long jump at his school’s Cougar Invitational with a league-record leap of 24-feet, four-and-a-quarter inches.
The Milwaukee Brewers will try to get back to .500 tonight with a second straight victory over the Houston Astros at Miller Park. The Brewers have only won four-of-their-last-11 games – but they’ve won 10 straight over the Astros, their longest current string of any team. Houston’s been struggling as well, having won just three-of-its-last-13. Left-hander Randy Wolf will start for the Brew Crew tonight against Astros’ right-hander Bud Norris. Wolf is 0-2 with an 8.08 ERA. He gave up four runs in six innings last Thursday in a home loss to the LA Dodgers. But Wolf went 2-0 against Houston last season, with an ERA of just point-eight-two. Norris is 1-0 with an ERA of just over four-and-a-quarter. He got his first win of the season against Washington last Thursday, despite giving up four runs and a season-high 10 hits in six innings.
Brewers’ infield prospect Scooter Gennett has been named the player-of-the-week in the Double-“A” Southern League. The Huntsville second baseman went 13-for-29 at the plate last week with three homers, 10 RBI’s, and two stolen bases. Gennett is hitting .346 in 18 games for Huntsville this season.
It’s Getaway Day in the Class-“A” Midwest League, with six of the eight scheduled games starting before 12:30 this afternoon. The Beloit Snappers have a matinee at West Michigan, after getting crushed by the Whitecaps 6-1 last night. The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers will close out their series at South Bend tonight, after an 8-1 Rattlers’ defeat. Dayton hosts Cedar Rapids in the only other night game. In the other daytime contests, Bowling Green entertains Quad Cities. Lansing plays at Peoria. Lake County is at Kane County. Burlington hosts Great Lakes. And Clinton is at home against Fort Wayne.
University of Wisconsin running back Montee Ball will be held out of the Badgers’ annual Spring Game on Saturday at Camp Randall Stadium. Kick-off for the game is at 4:30 p.m. Coach Bret Bielema says the rest of the Badger starters will go up against reserves on both sides of the ball. Bielema says he wants to build up a continuity among the starters, so they can start getting used to playing together. The Badgers have been squeamish about having their biggest stars play in the Spring Game, ever since Lee Evans tore a knee in the April event a decade ago and sat out the entire year. The Spring Game will conclude the Badgers’ spring workouts. They held a light practice yesterday with an emphasis on special teams.
UW-Milwaukee claimed two-of-the-four weekly track-and-field awards in the Horizon League. Junior Durell Busby was named the men’s track athlete-of-the-week, after winning the 110-meter hurdles at the Kansas Relays with a time of :13.90. That broke his own school record. Panthers’ senior Shelby Schaal was honored after winning the heptathlon at the Kansas Relays with a school record 5,063 points. The league’s other track-and-field honors went to Matt Marzahl of Illinois-Chicago and Gina Valgoi of Loyola.
University of Wisconsin sophomore Cassandra Darrah is the Big Ten softball co-pitcher-of-the-week. The right-hander shares the award with Kayla Massey of Iowa. Darrah threw a pair of complete games last weekend in the Badgers’ three-game home sweep of Penn State. She held the Lady Lions to only one run in 12 innings. Darrah threw her eighth shutout of the year on Sunday, and she’s now 18-7 on the year with a two-point-one-five ERA.
Chris Hillesheim of Saint Norbert is the baseball position player-of-the-week in the Midwest Conference. And Kevin Nutley of Saint Norbert is the league’s honored pitcher. Hillesheim, a senior catcher, batted .478 in eight games last week with two doubles, eight RBI’s, and eight runs scored. He also walked six times and was hit by pitches four times, for a total on-base percentage of .636. Nutley, a sophomore, threw a two-hitter in Saint Norbert’s 11-1 pounding of Carroll – and he had a save in a 9-7 win over Carroll. Nutley and Hillesheim both helped Saint Norbert win their last seven games and go 7-1 for the week. In softball, Hannah Sanidas of Carroll is the position player-of-the-week. The sophomore catcher hit a walk-off homer against Beloit and went 12-for-21 for the week. Stephanie Rieuwpassa of Ripon is the Midwest pitcher-of-the-week. The junior threw all 17 innings of a 1-nothing win over Carroll in which she struck out 11. She also threw two hitless innings against Lawrence for her third save of the year.