Middleton tops Craig in Big Eight softball opener

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Eric Schmoldt
Tuesday, April 8, 2014

JANESVILLE--Janesville Craig’s young pitchers are holding their own to start the season.

The Cougars are simply searching for a little run support.

Craig freshman Jenna Brandt gave up just two earned runs in 5 2/3 innings, but Rachel Everson hit a home run and the Cardinals took advantage of two early errors in a 4-1 victory. The home loss in their Big Eight Conference opener dropped the Cougars to 1-2.

“(The pitchers) are doing everything they can to keep us in the game, and they’re doing enough,” Craig co-coach Nicole Zellmer said. “We’ve got to help them out, offensively. We’ve got to be more aggressive with the bats.”

Brandt and fellow freshman Julia Humphrey combined to give up just six hits in seven innings, striking out six and walking one. But Middleton’s Ashley Stormer matched them, giving up just one run on six hits and five strikeouts in seven innings.

Brandt’s double sparked a two-out rally in the second inning that helped the Cougars tie the game, 1-1. But Middleton got its second unearned run of the game in the fourth to regain its lead.

“We gave a couple away, and they made a couple plays that could’ve led to runs,” Craig coach Dan Bayreuther said.

Everson blasted a one-out homer to left-center field in the fifth to pad the lead, and the Cardinals got another in the sixth when Katie Fermanich led off with a single and scored on Abby Henke’s double.

Craig put a pair of runners on in the seventh, but it mustered just four hits up to that point.

“We didn’t get good, aggressive swings early in the count,” Bayreuther said. “Then we get 0-2 and we’re just fighting to put it in play and get little groundballs. That, along with their defense, was the difference in the game.”

The Cougars play at Madison La Follette today.

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