Morning State Sports Briefs: Timber Rattlers win Midwest League championshipWisconsin Sports
-- The manager of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers said hard work and consistency are what led the team to the Midwest League championship. The Rattlers won Appleton’s first minor league title since 1984 by taking the title series over Fort Wayne three-games-to-one, culminating with a 4-2 victory yesterday.
APPLETON - The manager of the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers said hard work and consistency are what led the team to the Midwest League championship. The Rattlers won Appleton’s first minor league title since 1984 by taking the title series over Fort Wayne three-games-to-one, culminating with a 4-2 victory yesterday.
Manager Matt Erickson gave credit to the players who quote, “put in all the work and preparation over the course of a long season.” The Timber Rattlers made the playoffs by winning the first half title in the Western Division. Erickson then said the team lost a number of players to promotions in the Milwaukee Brewers’ farm system – and other players had to step into new roles. But he said the Timber Rattlers still managed to play .500 ball and earn the best overall record in the West. Also, Erickson said Wisconsin’s pitching stepped up a notch during the post-season. Starter Chad Thompson got the win yesterday by giving up just two runs in six innings. Reliever Brent Suter got the save with three hitless innings with no walks and three strikeouts. Erickson said the Timber Rattlers also had some timely hitting – even though the bats were not consistent during the playoff run.
Wisconsin’s new offensive line coach says the Badgers need to do a much better job of converting on third-and-short. Bart Miller says it will be a major focus at practice this week, as Wisconsin gets ready to host Texas-El Paso on Saturday. Last week against Utah State, the Badgers were 0-for-5 in third down conversions with just one-or-two yards to go. Montee Ball tried to bull his way to the first down each time, but he kept failing. With just one week under the new line coach, Ball said he didn’t expect the linemen to quote, “part the sea every single play.” But Ball says he’s starting to see an improvement, and it’s creating more one-on-one opportunities. Ball ran for a season-high 137 yards on 39 carries against Utah State. Wisconsin should have a chance to improve against Texas-El Paso, which gives up almost 217 rushing yards a game for a national ranking of 106th in that category. The Badgers ran for a total of 168 yards against Utah State.
Meanwhile, coach Bret Bielema says he knows who will start at quarterback for the Badgers on Saturday – but he’s keeping it a secret for now. Junior Danny O’Brien was benched at halftime last Saturday, and redshirt freshman Joel Stave completed the game. Both are at the top of the depth chart for the Texas El-Paso game. Wisconsin football coach Bret Bielema says he won’t decide until later this week who will start at quarterback, Danny O’Brien and Joel Stave are listed as co-starters on the depth chart. The junior O’Brien was benched at halftime last Saturday night, when the Badgers were trailing Utah State 14-3 at home. O’Brien lost a fumble, and he threw an interception that was called back by a penalty. Stave, a redshirt freshman, played the second half – and the Badgers came from behind thanks to an 82-yard punt return by Kenzel Doe for a touchdown, and a 17-yard scoring run by Montee Ball. Also, Zac Matthias may be at risk of losing his starting spot at right guard. He’s listed as a co-starter on the depth chart with Kyle Costigan. Bielema said he made the decision to move Costigan up on the depth chart. The coach said Matthias was flagged twice against Utah State. Meanwhile, defensive line coach Charlie Partridge says end Pat Muldoon could return in time for the Badgers’ Big Ten opener against Nebraska on September 29th. Muldoon is out with a left hand injury.
Three UW-Madison students were charged this morning with felony substantial battery in the August first attack on Wisconsin Badgers’ running back Montee Ball. 21-year-old Wendell Venerable, 21-year-old Deonte Wilson, and 22-year-old Robert Wilks appeared in Dane County Circuit Court. All three were allowed to go free on signature bonds. They’re due back in court October second, when a judge will decide if there’s enough evidence to order trials. Police said Ball was walking on University Avenue with friends when he was accosted by five men. Prosecutors said the other two suspects were never identified. Ball suffered a concussion and facial injuries in the incident – and he missed about a week of preseason practices. Ball was reportedly targeted after some of his other Badger teammates got into a fight at a campus party four days before the attack. Ball said he was at the party, but was not involved in the disturbance. A witness in the attack on Ball said “One down, nine to go … You football players better watch out!”
Hartland Arrowhead is still No. 1 in the Large Division in the new AP state high school football poll. Waunakee remains second. Sussex Hamilton moved into a third-place tie with Sun Prairie. Appleton North is fifth. All those teams are 4-0. For the middle-sized schools, West De Pere remains at the top followed by Walworth Big Foot, Wisconsin Lutheran, Plymouth, and Kewaskum. All are 4-0. Fond du Lac St. Mary's Springs still leads the small schools with Eau Claire Regis second, Lancaster third, Edgar fourth, and Potosi fifth. Those teams are also at 4-0.
Milwaukee Marquette leads Division 1 in the latest boys’ state high school soccer poll from the state coaches’ association. Middleton is second, followed by Green Bay Preble and Madison West. Waukesha Catholic Memorial tops Division 2, with Appleton Xavier second and Mount Horeb third. Racine Prairie is in first place in Division 3, followed by Sturgeon Bay and Green Bay Northeast Wisconsin Lutheran.
A Milwaukee area speed-skater is among 14 who have filed complaints against three coaches on the U.S. short-track team. Alyson Dudek of Hales Corners is among those who accused U.S. coach Jae Su Chun of numerous abuses. They allege that Chun slammed a skater against a wall and hit him for showing disrespect – told female skaters they were fat – threw equipment at skaters to intimidate them – and called the athletes “worthless” and “disgusting.” The complaint comes as the speed-skaters get ready to compete in the national short-track championships, which start in nine days at Salt Lake City. The 14 skaters said they wanted Chun and two of his assistants to be banned from traveling with the team in the upcoming World Cup season. Chun won’t coach the Americans at this month’s competition. But one of the others named in the complaint, Jun Hyung Yeo, will fill in as the U.S. head coach. A spokeswoman said no specific complaints have been filed against Jun, so he’ll run the team for now. Chun has been placed on administrative leave, and he has denied the allegations. Meanwhile, the 14 skaters have been at a different training program in Salt Lake City to get ready for the national competition, to be held September 27th-through-30th.
University of Wisconsin men’s soccer goal-keeper Chase Rau has been named the Big Ten’s co-defensive player-of-the-week. Rau, a freshman, shares the honor with Caleb Konstanski of Indiana. Rau posted back-to-back shutouts against Western Illinois and Indianapolis. He had four saves in the two matches, and he has not given up a goal in his last 222 minutes of playing time.
John Shakon of UW-Milwaukee has been named the Horizon League men’s defensive soccer player-of-the-week. Shakon, a senior, earned his 13th career shutout in a 1-0 win over Northern Illinois. He had four saves in that game, and three more in a UWM loss to Northwestern. Also, New Berlin native Monica Gonyo of Loyola was given the women’s weekly defensive honors in soccer. Gonyo, a sophomore, had nine saves in two matches. And she posted her second shutout of the year at Bowling Green. And Oshkosh native Sam Penzenstadler of Loyola was named the Horizon League men’s cross country runner-of-the-week. The sophomore won his second straight at the Illinois Inter-collegiate Championship.