Morning State Sports Briefs: Horizon League has to adjust to Butler's departureWisconsin Sports
-- Butler will leave the Horizon League for the Atlantic 10 after the next school year – and the move could have a profound impact on fellow conference members UW-Green Bay and UW-Milwaukee.
Butler will leave the Horizon League for the Atlantic 10 after the next school year – and the move could have a profound impact on fellow conference members UW-Green Bay and UW-Milwaukee.
Butler was a men’s basketball powerhouse that brought star quality to the league – especially after its two appearances in the national championship game in 2010-and-11. On the other hand, Butler’s success often prevented the league’s other schools from making the NCAA Tournament, since only the first-place team makes the field in most years. The last time Green Bay made the Big Dance was 1996 – and UW-Milwaukee never seemed to be the same after its Sweet-16 appearance in 2005 that allowed former coach Bruce Pearl to move on to Tennessee. UW-Green Bay athletic director Ken Bothof said Butler’s departure could open the door for other programs to develop like Butler’s. He said if a team can make multiple NCAA appearances, it gives them more exposure and better recruiting possibilities. For now, Horizon League Commissioner Jon LeCrone is not commenting on the possibility of replacing Butler right away. Oakland of Michigan and Evansville of Indiana have been mentioned as possibilities.
Brooks Conrad – the last player the Milwaukee Brewers cut at the end of Spring Training – is expected to be called up by tomorrow. Conrad, a utility infielder, will try to help make up for the absence of starter Mat Gamel. The first baseman could be out for the season after tearing the ACL on his right knee on Tuesday night at San Diego. Before Conrad can be called up, the Brewers must clear a spot for him on their 40-man roster. Conrad has been hot at the plate at Triple-“A” Nashville. He’s batting .400 with five homers and 13 RBI’s. Conrad has homered in each of his last three games for Nashville, and he has a 10-game hitting streak. Meanwhile, former Giants’ first baseman Travis Ishikawa will start at that spot for now – and he’ll return to his old ball-park tomorrow when the Giants open a weekend series against the Brewers. The Brewers are off today, after losing two-of-three to the Padres.
The Wisconsin Timber Rattlers and Beloit Snappers have extended their division lead in the Midwest League. The Rattlers and Snappers are both 15-and-11, one-and-a-half games ahead of Quad Cities and two up on fourth-place Burlington. Beloit edged Cedar Rapids 6-5 last night, while Wisconsin topped Clinton 12-5. Quad Cities was rained out at Burlington, and they’ll play a single game this evening. Beloit is at Cedar Rapids again tonight, while the Rattlers remain at Clinton. Also tonight, Peoria play at Kane County. Fort Wayne is at West Michigan. East leader Lansing plays at Great Lakes. Bowling Green is at South Bend. And Dayton hosts Lake County.
Carroll University of Waukesha is going for its second straight Midwest Conference men’s golf title this weekend. The league tournament was scheduled to open this morning at the Aldeen Golf Club in Rockford, Illinois. Eric Busalacchi of Carroll is back to defend the individual title he won a year ago, when he shot a 232 over 54 holes. The tournament is scheduled to run through Saturday.
The Northern Athletics Conference softball tournament begins this afternoon at Alverno College in Milwaukee, weather permitting. Rain is in the forecast, as the four lowest seeds in the field of six get ready for their first round games. Fourth-seeded Marian is scheduled to face Number-five Lakeland starting at three o’clock. And then Number-three Concordia-Mequon will play the Number-six seed, Dominican. The winners are scheduled to face the top two seeds tomorrow – Number-One Benedictine and Number-two Aurora, The double-elimination tournament is scheduled to continue through Saturday. Benedictine is the defending champion, and they’ve won the last three regular season titles.
An offensive lineman from suburban Chicago has given his verbal commitment to play at the University of Wisconsin in 2013. Barrington High School junior Jake Keeler is the sixth known commitment for the Badgers’ Class-of-’13. He had over a dozen scholarship offers from schools that included Nebraska, Tennessee, Missouri, and Miami-Florida. At the UW, Keeler could be playing with a former high school teammate. Barrington center Dan Voltz enrolled in January. He was the main backup at this spring’s Badger practices.
The University of Wisconsin softball team swept UW-Green Bay in a double-header in Madison yesterday. The Badgers took the opener 4-0. Stephanie Peace hit a three-run double and Michelle Mueller homered. Wisconsin also won the nightcap 5-2, as Green Bay blew a 2-0 first inning lead. The Badgers have now won 13 straight at home, and are 33-15 on the year. The Phoenix dropped to 21-25.