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Afternoon State Sports Briefs: UW softball begins tourney play today

EUGENE, Ore. - The University of Wisconsin softball team will start its NCAA Division I Tournament run this evening against North Carolina.

The Badgers are part of a four-team, double-elimination regional in Eugene Oregon. The Oregon Ducks and BYU are the others. Wisconsin won the Big Ten Tournament last weekend. They're 42-11, while North Carolina is 39-19. The Tar Heels were knocked out by Florida State in the ACC tourney. The Badgers beat North Carolina 4-2 in mid-March at the Louisville Classic. Whitney Massey homered twice in that game, while Cassandra Darrah tossed a seven-hitter. Meanwhile, Massey has been named to the coaches' Great Lakes All-Regional team for Division I. Darrah and Mary Massei made the all-regional second squad.


The University of Wisconsin football team will play both Maryland and Rutgers in 2014. Both the Terrapins and the Scarlet Knights will join the Big Ten Conference that year, and the league released its schedule of conference football games today. The Badgers will host Maryland on October 25th of 2014, before playing at Rutgers the following Saturday. Wisconsin has one non-conference game scheduled for '14. They'll host South Florida next September 27th. The rest of the non-league schedule is still being talked out. Wisconsin's league opener for next year is on Oct. 4 at Northwestern. The Badgers' schedule also includes road contests at Purdue and Iowa - plus home games against Illinois, Nebraska, and Minnesota.


The University of Wisconsin women's basketball team will host Boston College on December fifth as part of their Big Ten-ACC Challenge. The matchups were announced today. Badgers' coach Bobbie Kelsey says it will be a good measuring stick for her team, since BC is returning four starters from a year ago. Wisconsin is 3-3 in the women's Big Ten-ACC Challenge. The Badgers lost at Virginia Tech last November, after defeating Boston College by eight points in November of 2011.


The Milwaukee Brewers will try for a split of their four-game series at Pittsburgh tonight. The Pirates have won the last two contests, after the Crew won the series opener on Monday. Rookie right-hander Hiram Burgos will start for Milwaukee tonight against left-hander Francisco Liriano. Burgos is 1-1 with a 6.86 ERA. He only gave up six combined runs in his first three starts - but last Saturday at Cincinnati, Burgos was tagged for 12 runs and 11 hits in three innings of 13-7 loss to the Reds. Brewers' manager Ron Roenicke said he was short on available relievers, and that's why he kept Burgos on the mound for so long. Liriano is making just his second start for the Pirates this year, after he broke his non-pitching arm while slapping a door at his home last Christmas. In his season debut, Liriano gave up one run in five-and-a-third innings with nine strikeouts in an 11-2 rout of the New York Mets. The Brewers are in last place by percentage points in the National League Central. The fourth-place Chicago Cubs are off tonight, so a Brewer win would put Milwaukee back in fourth and the Cubbies back in the cellar.


Adam Grambow of Ripon College is the baseball position player-of-the-year in the North Division of the Midwest Conference, and Brett Nohr of Saint Norbert is the year's top pitcher. Grambow, a senior first baseman, batted .364 in the regular season with six homers, eight doubles, and an on-base-plus-slugging-percentage of .956. Nohr, a junior, went 7-1 in eight starts with the league's second-best ERA at 2.79. Ripon's Eric Cruise was named the coach-of-the-year. His Red Hawks won the Midwest Conference tournament, and made the NCAA Division III tourney. Grambow was one of six Ripon players to make the All-North Division first team. The others are Kyle Bosquez, Tom Sawyer, Taylor Koth, Steven Blader, and Pat Van Daalwyk. Saint Norbert had five first-team selections, including Nohr. The others are Kevin Nutley, Alex Larsen, Troy Rottier, and Travis Mason. Also chosen were Joe Klobukowski of Carroll, Alex Brewer of Lawrence, and Andrew Edwards of Beloit.


Eight Wisconsin Division III softball players were named to the all-Great Lakes Regional first team by the National Fast-pitch Coaches Association. UW-Whitewater had two selections on the top squad - pitcher Katie Boyle and catcher Emily Epifanio. River Falls also had two first teamers - second baseman Hayley Buchanan and utility player Abbie Morris. The others were utility player Ashley Martin of Superior, outfielder Amanda Fischer of Eau Claire, pitcher Krystina Leazer of Carthage, and first baseman Cara Landherr of Concordia-Mequon. All told, 159 schools had at least one player on the regional first, second, and third teams throughout the country.


Saint Norbert of De Pere has won the men's All-Sports championship in the Midwest Conference, and Monmouth of Illinois won the women's crown. The awards are based on each school's standings in all 20 sports during the past school year. The Saint Norbert men took first place in football, basketball, and golf - and second-place in indoor-and-outdoor track, plus baseball. It was the Green Knights' first All-Sports title in nine years. Monmouth won its second comprehensive women's title in the past three years. The Fighting Scots were helped by three titles in indoor-and-outdoor track, and cross country.


Former Green Bay Packers' defensive back Charles Woodson met with the Denver Broncos, and then left without a contract offer yesterday. The Oakland Raiders and Carolina Panthers are also said to be interested in the 36-year-old Woodson - but Denver would appear to give him his best opportunity at another Super Bowl ring. The Broncos need some fresh bodies in their defensive backfield, after being burned for three long touchdown passes in a 38-35 playoff loss to Baltimore last season. Also, the Broncos should have no trouble affording Woodson, since they have around seven-million dollars in available salary cap room. Woodson's only Super Bowl title was with the Packers in the 2010 season. The eight-time Pro Bowler has 55 career interceptions and 17 sacks. Both rank second among active DB's.


Madison golfer Jerry Kelly is the only Wisconsinite playing in the PGA's Byron Nelson Championship in Irving Texas. Kelly is scheduled to begin his first round early this afternoon at the TPC Four Seasons Resort. Keegan Bradley and Ted Potter Jr. shared the mid-morning lead at five-under-par around the mid-way point of their opening rounds. Meanwhile, the Champions Tour players are getting ready for the Senior PGA Championship, which begins a week from today in Saint Louis.


The road to a state championship begins today for Wisconsin high school girls' softball teams. Regional play begins in Divisions 2,3,4. The Division-One regionals won't get underway until next Tuesday. Oakfield will go for its third straight championship in Division-Four. Chippewa Falls, Baldwin-Woodville, and Stevens Point Pacelli are the defending champs in the other three groupings. This year's state tournament is set for June 6-8 in Madison.