Author Archives: ytadmin

Arizona softball run-rules No. 12 Tennessee in first major test of season

Arizona softball passed its first major test with ease.

Alyssa Denham threw five scoreless innings, Ivy Davis drove in two runs, and the fifth-ranked Wildcats capitalized on a disastrous first inning by Tennessee to cruise to an 8-0 mercy-rule win over the 12th-ranked Volunteers.

The Wildcats went 5-0 in the Kajikawa Classic, though Sunday’s victory was their first over a ranked team.

“I think that just proves a lot, that we can come out against anybody…and we can put up a good fight,” Davis said. “We don’t really worry about the name on the other team’s jersey but we can fight no matter what.”

The Wildcats plated five runs in the first inning, taking advantage of four walks, a passed ball and two errors by Tennessee second baseman Cailin Hannon, who let two sharp grounders skip into the outfield to plate a pair of runs.

Davis recorded the only hit of the inning, grounding an RBI single up the middle to cap the scoring.

“I think that was super important for us to get the energy going right off the bat,” Davis said.

It had been lacking Saturday, prompting head coach Mike Candrea to light into his team after a 12-0 win over Western Michigan.

The energy “was really good tonight,” Candrea said. “They were all there.”

That early five-spot was plenty of run support for Denham, who allowed five hits and two walks while striking out four.

After making a diving catch in the first, freshman left fielder Bella Dayton made another heads up defensive play in the second, backing up an errant throw to second base and firing home to nab a runner at the plate.

Denham (2-0) helped herself out in the fourth, using every inch of her 6-foot-1 frame to snare a chopper and strand runners on the corners

It was a bounce-back performance for the right-hander, who permitted three runs in 4.1 innings in Friday’s win vs. Seattle.

“I thought she was spinning the ball really well,” Davis said. “She had a lot good pitches and even the hits they got were on good pitches by her. She wasn’t missing her spots.”

Davis added to the lead again in the fifth, singling through the left side to plate Hanah Bowen, who pinch ran for Marissa Schuld after she singled with one out in the frame.

That turned the lineup over for Alyssa Palomino-Cardoza, who completed the run rule by drilling a two-run single up the middle, scoring Davis and Peanut Martinez, who also singled in the frame.

Altogether Arizona had six hits, all singles, with four coming from the bottom half of the lineup.

“They spotted us five runs, but I thought we’d swing the bat a little better,” Candrea said. “We got anxious at times and did not really cash in on their inability to demand the strike zone. It’s a good learning lesson for us, but it was nice to see the bottom of the order come through for us in the end.”

Arizona returns home next weekend for the Hillenbrand Invitational where it will host Long Beach State, Northern Iowa, Bryant, and No. 3 Oklahoma.

“It should be another good weekend, but like I say, every weekend’s a test,” Candrea said. “We feel good tonight but we need to do it again.”

Lakers News: Robert Horry, Quinn Cook, Troy Daniels Attend 2020 California Strong Celebrity Softball Game

Fresh off sweeping a two-game road trip, Los Angeles Lakers teammates Quinn Cook and Troy Daniels were on hand at Eddy D. Field Baseball Stadium for the 2020 California Strong Celebrity Softball Game.

So too were former Lakers Matt Barnes and Robert Horry, along with Los Angeles Dodgers All-Stars Cody Bellinger and Joc Pederson, among other professional athletes and celebrities. They all made the trip to Pepperdine University in support of California Strong.

It’s the brainchild of Milwaukee Brewers teammates Christian Yelich and Ryan Braun, Cincinnati Reds infielder Mike Moustakas and Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff. They were on a group text in 2018 when wildfires set Southern California ablaze.

Their homes were spared, but the group nonetheless was determined to assist those who weren’t as fortunate. The nonprofit organization has raised over $3 million to give back to Californians impacted by wildfires and the mass shooting at Borderline Bar and Grill in Thousand Oaks.

“The community has given so much to the athlete,” Horry told LakersNation.com of the importance for professional athletes to use their platform.

“The community is the one that buys the jerseys, the community is the reason the TV contracts are what they are and the reason the athletes can get paid what they get paid. So if you forget them, they should forget you. You can’t do that.”

Horry had a highlight-worthy catch in center field when he caught a fly ball that deflected off his teammate’s glove. The play supported Horry’s confidence that baseball skills from his childhood days were still present.

Cook and Daniels mingled with fellow participants and signed autographs throughout the day. “I’m thankful for the opportunity,” Cook said of attending. “It’s a great cause they’ve got going on. To have this kind of turnout is amazing.”

When asked which player from the current Lakers roster they would pick to hit a home run, Horry and Cook both unsurprisingly named LeBron James. However, Cook added a second selection in Dwight Howard.

This year’s event didn’t come under the same cloud of disaster just having struck, but those who have been impacted in the past were hardly forgotten. Checks were presented to two families that experienced loss in wildfires, and the owner of Borderline Bar and Grill.

Here’s why George Kittle leads the NFL in pancake blocks and giant grins

From ESPN to FOX to NBC, there’s not a television crew airing NFL games that hasn’t fallen in love with George Kittle.

Each week, the 49ers All-Pro tight end is targeted with cameras that catch him cheering, laughing and smiling from ear-to-ear. It’s rare and even stunning to see a professional football player so relaxed, so at ease and so happy in the midst of an often brutal game, but it doesn’t surprise anyone who knows Kittle. Especially George’s wife, Claire.

“He’s really just a happy-go-lucky guy,” Claire said. “He’s a little kid in a big man’s body playing football, which is something he’s dreamt of doing ever since he was little.”

An energetic, excited Kittle isn’t the only version of George that Claire spends her time with. During the week, the couple uses downtime at home to decompress with their Bernedoodle, Deenie, to talk football — “I feel like I ask generally good questions,” Claire says — and to plan their next outing to a hockey or basketball game.

But on Sundays, Claire is prepared for the intensity meter to spike. Even after George leaves for the stadium.

“When game day rolls around, his dad (Bruce) is singing, trying to get everybody wound up,” Claire said. “We’ve got to get out the door. From the moment he wakes up in the morning, he’s so excited to go and experience this football game.”

Bruce Kittle is the coach who inspired George to play with personality, a point he’s hammered home to George’s peers on various youth sports teams and the football players he eventually coached as an assistant at Oklahoma. A four-year letterman as an offensive tackle under legendary coach Hayden Fry at Iowa, Bruce married Jan Krieger, a member of the Iowa High School Sports Hall of Fame in basketball and softball.

The couple coached every team and every sport George and his sister Emma, a former collegiate volleyball player, played until high school, but as a former offensive lineman, there’s nothing Bruce enjoyed more than teaching George and his friends to run block.

George may have harbored NFL dreams from the time he first wore pads, but even when his son was at Iowa, Bruce thought more about the man in front of George than the road ahead of his son.

“I never really thought about the NFL because I told him the only thing you really need to be able to do is to pancake the guy in front of you, run decent routes to catch the ball and know the offense,” Bruce said.

When TV cameras captured George laughing maniacally as he overpowered Atlanta Falcons safety Ricardo Allen with a run block to lead 49ers tailback Raheem Mostert into the end zone on Dec. 15, Bruce wasn’t the only person who appreciated the fun his son was having while he dominated.

The emotion Kittle displayed was all too familiar for Greg Nation, who coached Kittle during his junior and senior seasons at Norman High in Norman, Oklahoma. Nation said the sheer joy Kittle showcased with his block didn’t evoke memories of the lanky wideout on the prep fields, but was instead reminiscent of a game-clinching dunk during his senior season on the basketball court.

“He comes down the middle, they throw it to him and he slammed it,” Nation said. “And all the way down the court, you know that big, loud roar he makes, he’s going down the court and he’s shaking his head, he’s got the biggest smile.”

Nation paints Kittle as a multi-sport standout in high school, but acknowledges he was undersized and lightly recruited as a football player. Thanks to game tape (sent by Bruce) Iowa offensive coordinator Ken O’Keefe reviewed, head coach Kirk Ferentz gave Kittle the final scholarship in his class on the morning National Letters of Intent were due.

When Kittle’s signed letter arrived via fax in the athletic department offices of Iowa City, Hawkeyes assistant coaches were stunned.

“I was like, ‘Who the heck is George Kittle?’” current Iowa special teams coach LeVar Woods said. “No one even knew where he was coming from. We knew the last name. We said, ‘Is that Bruce’s son? Is he coming to Iowa?’”

In the three years between his arrival at Iowa and the day Kittle made his first start in 2015, he met Claire, a Hawkeyes basketball player, who became his closest confidant and an important sounding board when his development hit rough patches. As George struggled to gain weight and found himself buried on the depth chart heading into his redshirt junior season, Claire admits he discussed the possibility of giving up football.

“It was a real conversation,” Claire said.

Woods, who coached tight ends when Kittle played for the Hawkeyes, wasn’t surprised.

“I remember seeing a kid that was down and a kid that was frustrated,” Woods said. “But I don’t know that I ever knew it got to the point where he thought maybe he didn’t want to play anymore.”

Claire, Bruce and George attribute his initial trials at Iowa to size and maturity issues, but after a weeklong period in which he questioned his future, George left his struggles in the dust.

“He was a knucklehead,” Woods said. “But going into his redshirt junior year, he finally decided to buckle down and he came into spring practice looking to dominate guys and no one had really seen that from him leading up to that.”

Three years after San Francisco made Kittle a fifth-round draft pick, he owns the NFL single-season tight end record for receiving yards, was named the highest-graded player by Pro Football Focus in 2019 and is a two-time team captain of the 49ers.

The secret? Kittle returned to his roots and began having fun again.

“Obviously stakes and pressure have increased from high school to college to the NFL, but at the end of it, it’s still a kid’s game and that’s how I attack it every single day,” Kittle said. “I just have fun doing it.”

Kittle’s rise from an afterthought at Iowa to one of the NFL’s most entertaining stars was lightning quick, but those closest to Kittle insist his new status near the top of the league’s hierarchy hasn’t changed him.

For most, the Kittle they see on television each week is the Kittle they’ve always known.

“The kid moves in from Iowa, didn’t know anybody and within two weeks of being at (high) school, he knew everybody on campus and everybody loved him to death,” said Nation.

Following the 49ers’ 26-21 victory in Seattle that clinched the NFC West and No. 1 seed, Kittle ran off the field with the wide grin that fans have come to adore. On his way to the locker room, Kittle spotted Woods, his position coach at Iowa, and Woods’ 13-year-old, son, Mason.

Kittle paused for a photo with Mason, who was involved in his celebration four years earlier when Iowa won a dramatic 40-35 game over Minnesota to improve to 10-0 in 2015.

“George found my son Mason on the field after the game and picked him up from behind and threw him up in the air and onto his shoulders,” Woods said. “That’s one of my favorite pictures of all time. It sits in our family room.”

The impression Kittle has made on Mason Woods is the impression he strives to leave on every young fan.

“He’s in a position to leave a lasting impact for these kids,” Claire said. “If you’re just a real, genuine, normal human being, it’s kind of sad but people think that’s so cool. It should just be like that.”

With the cameras focused on his every move, the world has an open invitation to see the real George Kittle. The kid-in-a-candy-store persona is now so attached to Kittle that his energy and enthusiasm don’t come off as a made-for-TV act, but rather real qualities of a man who realizes his great fortune.

The person who inspired Kittle to be himself, Bruce, remains his son’s most fiercely supportive coach to this day. Bruce sends George handwritten letters in advance of each game and is proud to note that Kittle was elected a captain by his peers after barely surpassing 500 receiving yards as a rookie.

Bruce also believes the world may not know the same George that he does if not for the way his NFL coaches continue to encourage Kittle to be himself.

“I don’t know that you’d see everything that you’re seeing if he was playing under Bill Belichick,” Bruce said. “Shanahan and company embrace people’s personalities and on top of that, he’s in an offense that is almost perfectly designed for him to be successful.”

Bruce admires Belichick’s style and points out the Patriots legendary head coach is close with Ferentz, Kittle’s college head coach, but also views his son’s success as the result of a perfect storm.

“The freedom that George has and the way they run their system, the 49ers have allowed that to blossom in a way that I’m not sure it could have otherwise,” Bruce said.

When the 49ers host the Minnesota Vikings for Saturday’s Divisional Round matchup at Levi’s Stadium, thousands of fans around the Bay Area and beyond will don their No. 85 jerseys. After watching their favorite team finish at .500 or worse in 13 of the previous 16 seasons leading into 2019, the 49ers have finally given their fans a reason to smile again when the team takes the field.

No one, fan or player, will smile bigger or have more fun on Saturday than George Kittle. Well, maybe Bruce will.

“My dad at an early age told me football is easier when you have fun,” Kittle said. “I figured out that it was so that’s what I tried to do. Just enjoy myself and the rest will take care of itself.”

All In: A column dedicated to women and girls in sports

Welcome to All In — a column dedicated to women and girls in sports.

All In will provide a guide to learning about and watching women athletes perform — locally, nationally and internationally — in person, on television and online.

We have a big year ahead on the local and national stage. It’s an Olympic year. In 2020, sports fans will cheer for women wearing Team USA jerseys competing July 24-Aug.9 in Japan. The U.S. women’s softball team will be back competing in the Olympics for the first time since 2008. Golf will be back for the second time in modern history. New Olympic sports — including karate, skateboarding and sports climbing — will show us a new generation of athletes.

Audiences are thrilled watching women during the Olympics. Why doesn’t that carry over in those sports beyond the Olympic years? Could it be because women’s sports receive just 4 percent of all sports media coverage?

Want to watch and cheer our nation’s best in the United States leading up to the Games? Opportunities close to Albany are available. The USA women’s basketball team will play an exhibition game against the UConn women’s basketball team on Monday, Jan 27. It’s a two-hour drive from Albany to the XL Center in Hartford. I’m making the trip — who is with me? Tickets are still available in the 16,000-seat venue.

USA Softball also plans regional events later this year nearby in Massachusetts and Connecticut with the schedule evolving. The U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team’s Olympic qualifying events in Texas will be televised in late January and look for a series of friendly matches to follow.

On a local level, the Eastern Synchonized Skating Regional Sectional Championships are coming to Times Union Center on Jan. 15-19. Albany will play host to the Women’s Tennis Association’s pro tennis tour in August. What a thrill that will be during an Olympic year.

The Capital District Physicians’ Health Plan Symetra Tour will return to Capital Hills in Albany for a 17th year this summer thanks to a two-year sponsorship commitment from CDPHP.

It’s essential for a column on women’s sports to cover inequalities that still exist. This column and my blog also will focus on sports being inclusive, hence the name All In. Fifty years ago Billie Jean King was part of the Original 9 who organized what would become the Women’s Tennis Association. This past year, on the heels of an intense and well-publicized effort by the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team for equal pay supported by their dedicated fan base and winning ways, the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association has been formed. King has been actively involved in promoting women’s hockey and inclusion through a partnership with the NHL and the PWHPA’s “The Dream Gap Tour.” How long have we come in 50 years? Not far enough. We have plenty of work to do.

When I announced plans to write a column on women and sports on social media, a friend said: “There will be no shortage of great athletes for you to write about.”

She’s right. But I need your help. I need your story ideas. I need you to watch and attend games. I need you to support companies that sponsor women in athletics.

I also need you to join in networking events sponsored by the Times Union’s extensive women’s network and magazine, [email protected] We will be including sports-related events this year in conjunction with this column. Join our network.

And finally, buy a subscription to the Times Union for dedicating space to a column focusing on women and girls in sport. Support local journalism.

If you agree that women are worth watching, huddle up and join in to witness an exciting year ahead for women and girls in sports.

Surfing legend Kelly Slater troubled by bushfire ‘fear and devastation’

Surfing legend Kelly Slater has joined the long line of international personalities drawing attention to Australia’s bushfire crisis.

The 47-year-old pro, who has visited the country countless times in his surfing career, took to Instagram to share his shock and sadness the images that have emerged from the ongoing bushfire disaster.

Slater posted an image of a kangaroo joey, which had perished after appearing to become tangled in a wire fence as it attempted to escape the flames.

“I’m not sure a picture could better sum up the fear and devastation more succinctly,” Slater wrote alongside his image.

“I hope there is a silver lining and important lessons learned from the ongoing catastrophes once the dust settles.

“One of my biggest fears as a kid was fires and ironically enough, my mom was a firefighter. Maybe one created the other.

“Hoping for safety and refuge for all my human and animal friends down under.”

Slater also requested followers leave comments on the post with links to donate to firefighting and recovery efforts.

Athletes uniting for fundraising efforts

Nick Kyrgios called on Tennis Australia to dig deep in the nations’s time of need, as bushfires devastate livelihoods and communities around the country.

On Friday, the governing body of Australian Tennis answered the call.

Krygios’ plans for a massive fundraising effort for bushfire victims has resulted in a tennis exhibition match set to feature some of the world’s top players.

The 24-year-old kicked off a flood of donations to the fundraising campaign from sporting names around Australia, including American NBL star LaMelo Ball.

Kyrgios floated the idea of a charity tennis match and Tennis Australia on Friday responded by announcing a “Rally for Relief” exhibition match on Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday Jan 15.

Fellow Australian players Alex de Minaur, John Millman, Dylan Alcott and Samantha Stosur, among others, also vowed to donate money from their aces while the ATP Cup also got on board.

Big Bash League captains, Brisbane Heat’s Chris Lynn and Melbourne Stars’ Glenn Maxwell as well as Hurricanes batsman D’Arcy Short, have all pledged $250 for each six they hit in the competition.

As a mark of respect there will be no fireworks at Saturday’s Melbourne BBL derby, where Renegades jerseys will be auctioned off.

Former Australian baseballer Simone Wearne kickstarted a campaign to donate for every home run hit in the Australian softball championships and a number of WNBL players have also got in on the act.

“It is special to see so many athletes from various sports getting in behind the real heroes who are fighting to save lives and properties around our country,” Lynn tweeted.

Winter softball tournaments bring millions in revenue to Myrtle Beach

The Myrtle Beach sports tourism season is starting off 2020 with a home run.

Beginning Friday through late February, the Grand Park Athletic Complex near Market Common will host a series of adult softball tournaments.

Officials and players have said the mild temperatures and the state-of-the-art facilities in Myrtle Beach are what separate the city from other sports tourism destinations.

“Top notch facility,” began player Monte Harris, who traveled from New Jersey to compete in this weekend’s USSSA Winter World Championships. “Definitely top of the line. I’ve been down here a few times, coaching and playing, and it’s certainly the best in the area.”

The USSSA Winter World Championships will bring in 89 teams and close to 1,500 adult softball players, who all need places to eat and stay.

“All these teams this weekend are from out of town. They’ve traveled in and made a weekend of it with their buddies. And from this weekend through February we’ll work with four different affiliations to host their world series. And each one of these weekends in and of its self is a big deal,” said Myrtle Beach Sports Tourism Director Timothy Huber.

Officials estimate that the stretch of tournaments will bring in $2 million in revenue for Myrtle Beach.

Happy New Year from Athletics Director Jeff Long

Happy New Year! Looking back on 2019, we have made progress in our program, however we are never satisfied and look forward to improving and growing our program in ways that will make our fans and supporters even more proud of the University of Kansas Jayhawks! We will continue to strive to improve the student-athlete experience as well as that of our fans at each of our athletic venues. We know that 2020 is going to be another memorable year with many exciting moments for our student-athletes and the entire Jayhawk nation.

As we begin the new year, we are very happy to announce another way to engage our fans and share our storied history across the multiple sports here at KU. The Jayhawker podcast, hosted by Brian Hanni, will provide access to past and present Jayhawks in ways like never before! The Jayhawker will launch on January 9, featuring a former student-athlete you will not want to miss. Subscribe here: Apple or Spotify and follow on Twitter and Instagram.

As we turn the page to 2020, both our men’s and women’s basketball teams are off to tremendous starts as they head into Big 12 conference play this Saturday. The men’s basketball team will host West Virginia at 3 p.m., at Allen Fieldhouse and the 12-0 women’s basketball team will travel to Stillwater to face Oklahoma State at 2 p.m. Coach Self and Coach Schneider have their teams prepared to compete and I look forward to seeing you support our teams as they begin this crucial stretch of the season.

The Kansas men’s and women’s track and field teams continue their indoor season on January 18, when they travel to Wichita, for the KU-KSU-WSU Triangular. The meet will be the sixth installment of the series, where Kansas owns the team series record with three victories. The Jayhawks began their indoor season back on December 6, where they had a number of strong performances. The Jayhawks will return home to Anschutz Pavilion on January 23-24, 2020 when they host the Jayhawk Classic.

The swim & dive team will be back in the water on January 11 in Tempe, Arizona and look to finish strong in the Big 12 Championships in February and NCAA Championships in March.

Our spring sports are quickly approaching and there are a lot of great opportunities to support our student-athletes as they compete.

Baseball

The Jayhawks baseball team concluded the fall slate of games by beating Oral Roberts in Tulsa, Oklahoma and Nebraska in Lincoln in exhibition play.
KU returns two of its starting three pitchers from last year’s team as well as saves leader Jonah Ulane. Senior shortstop Benjamin Sems also returns with a team-high .305 average and 39 RBIs from last season.
The 2020 schedule features 24 home games so there are plenty of opportunities to see Coach Price and our Jayhawks in action at Hoglund Ballpark.

Men’s Golf

Our men’s golf team placed in the top 10 as a team in four of its stroke play tournaments during its fall season, and top five in two tournaments.
The team placed second at the Big 12 Match Play Tournament for the second year in a row and will tee it up again in San Juan, Puerto Rico in the TPC Dorado Beach Collegiate February 23-25.

Women’s Golf

Junior Sera Tadokoro won the Cardinal Cup in October and helped the squad to three top-10 finishes in its five fall tournaments.
The spring season will begin in just over a month at the Moon Golf Invitational in Melbourne, Florida from February 17-18, and wrap up at the Big 12 Championships in Dallas, Texas from April 24-26.

Rowing

Led by head coach Carrie Cook-Callen, rowing is celebrating its 25th year as a program at KU.
Kansas will start the season at the Ryder-Den Besten Cup on Sunday, March 22, 2020, at Cooper River Park, New Jersey.
The Jayhawks will face-off against Kansas State in the annual Dillions Sunflower Showdown on Saturday, May 2, 2020, at Wyandotte County Lake in Kansas City, Kansas.

Softball

Now in her second season, head coach Jennifer McFalls is looking to build on their 7-1 record in fall exhibition contests.
The team features seven seniors and will compete in the Kajikawa Classic in Tempe, Arizona to open up the season, February 7-9.
They will be playing 23 games at Arrocha Ballpark inside Rock Chalk Park.

Tennis

As the defending Big 12 Conference champions, three KU tennis players were ranked in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) 2019 Oracle ITA Final Fall Rankings. KU tennis has two singles and one doubles pair in the top-100 between the two lists.
Sonia Smagina was individually ranked as No. 63 while Malkia Ngounoue was listed as No. 93. Smagina paired with freshman Roxana Manu and came in at No. 42 in doubles.
The first match of the 2020 season is January 10-12 in Orlando, Florida. at the Orlando Invitational.

With your support we look forward to helping our nearly 500 student-athletes create new memories in 2020. Have a Happy New Year and Rock Chalk!

Robbinsville softball heads back to Central Jersey Group II title game after ousting South Plainfield

With an absolutely ridiculous state tournament record of 44-4 over the last nine years, it’s understandable how the Robbinsville High School softball team often seemed to be on cruise control Thursday in its Central Jersey Group III semifinal.

Although it was tied in the fifth inning, there was no sense of panic or urgency. Rather, Robbinsville just seemed to go about its business with the inner confidence somehow things would all work out in the end.

Sure enough, in a game in which it had only eight hits, Robbinsville put six of them together in a row in the fifth ininng and the result ended up being a comfortable 7-1 victory over South Plainfield (20-6).

The two-time defending Group II state champion and a winner of four state titles in eight years, Robbinsville (23-4) will now attempt to win an incredible eighth sectional championship in nine years when it travels to top-seeded Bordentown on Tuesday.

For much of the game the Middlesex County team hung right with the Ravens. On the very first pitch of the game, Cameron Marks blasted a double to center field off freshman Shea Krebs and eventually came home on a sac fly by Gillian Holoboski.

After a rain delay of over an hour in the bottom of the first, Robbinsville tied the game on a single by Olivia Moser after Shea Walsh had singled right before the heavens opened up.

At this point it looked like the teams might be about to slug it out, but there was no more scoring until the bottom of the fifth.

For her part, Krebs really settled and was able to work her way out of any jams. Krebs had only two strikeouts, but she also gave up just five hits and was able to hold the dangerous Holoboski hitless.

“I just try to stay calm,” said Krebs when asked what it’s like getting the ball as a freshman for a program with such high expectations. “I don’t really get that nervous because I know I have a great team behind me.”

Many of Robbinsville’s early bats in this game against Holoboski can best be described as listless, but suddenly all of that changed.

After a ground out, Alexa Klepper got the Ravens going with a double and advanced to third on a single by Ashley Veisz. More known for her defensive work at second than her hitting, No. 9 batter Alyssa Whitman then stroked the game-winning hit with a single.

From there, Chelsea Manto collected her 203rd career hit with a hard RBI single and Walsh picked up career hit 176 with a run-scoring single to right.

Next up was Devon Witt, who after striking out in her first two at bats, laced a two-run double to deep center field to become the latest Robbinsville player to join the 100-hit club.

Just like that a competitive game had been blown wide open thanks to the six straight hits.

“It was a good game, but they got the hits when they needed to and we did not,” said South Plainfield coach Don Panzarella, who became New Jersey’s all-time winningest coach last year when he recorded his 744th career win. “You know when you play a good team like that they are eventually going to score some runs.”

In addition to the pitching of Krebs, another real plus was Robbinsville got two nice catches in right field by Brynn Hopkins, and two hits at the bottom of the order from Veisz and Whitman. Those two combined to produce the final run in the sixth when Veisz doubled to left and Whitman singled her in.

It should all make for an interesting final on Tuesday against a Bordentown team that is just itching to beat one of the most storied programs in New Jersey softball history despite the fact Robbinsville has only been in existence for 11 years.

South Plainfield (20-6) 100 000 0 – 1 3 0

Robbinsville (23-4) 100 051 x – 7 10 2

WP-Krebs. LP-Holoboski. 2B-Marks (SP), Klepper (R), Witt (R), Veisz (R). RBIs: SP-Holoboski. R-Manto, Walsh, Witt 2, Moser, Whitman 2.

The 19 Wisconsin sports athletes who defined 2019 (and 10 villains)

With four MVPs donning Wisconsin sports jerseys, including one new member of the MVP club, it’s a special time in Wisconsin athletics. These are the 19 biggest names in Wisconsin sports in 2019, balancing visibility and scope of achievement — as well as 10 villains we could have done without.
19. Eric Bledsoe

The point guard finished 2018-19 scoring 15.9 points per game, with 4.6 rebounds, 5.5 assists and a spot on the NBA All-Defensive first team. He’s carried that over into the new season, where he averages 15.0 points, 4.9 rebounds and 5.7 assists per game. The Bucks signed Bledsoe to a four-year extension in March.
18. Brook Lopez

Lopez was a revelation for the Bucks as a free-agent signing for the 2018-19 season, and his magnum opus came March 29 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Raptors, where he had 29 points and 11 rebounds. Lopez has gotten off to a slow start offensively in 2019-20, though he remains a force contesting shots and was essential to Milwaukee’s blueprint last season, putting the Bucks on the doorstep of the finals.
17. Ethan Happ

The Badgers big man finished his senior season with an average of 17.3 points and 10.1 rebounds per game and earned second-team All American honors for a team that finished 23-11 overall and 14-6 in the Big Ten. He started all 139 games of his career, ranking second in Big Ten history, and he became the first Big Ten player since 1981 to finish with 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. He finished with 2,130 points, third in Badgers scoring history. Specifically in 2019, he had 26 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists in a win over previously unbeaten Michigan on Jan. 19.
16. Beata Nelson

The Verona native and University of Wisconsin swimmer set an NCAA record with her time of 1:47.24 to win the national title in the 200-yard backstroke, her third national title of the weekend. She won the individual medley with the second-fastest time in event history (1:50.79) and won the backstroke with the fastest mark in NCAA finals history (49.18). She became the first Badgers swimmer to win two national titles, let alone three.
15. Brandon Woodruff

It was a breakout year for the Brewers ace, who finished with an 11-3 record and 3.62 ERA in 121 innings, with a 1.142 WHIP and 143 strikeouts. He earned his first all-star berth, but we’ll have to wonder what could have happened if Woodruff hadn’t sustained a strained oblique midway through the year. He was still a force when he worked four innings in the NL wild-card game against Washington.
14. Dana Rettke

The Big Ten women’s volleyball player of the year led the Badgers to a conference title and a trip to the national championship game. The Illinois native also led the nation in hitting percentage (.423). Already a two-time All-American, the 6-foot-8 junior guided the Badgers to the Final Four as Wisconsin won all four of its first postseason matches in three sets to advance into the national semifinal. That was followed by a stunning four-set win over the No. 1-ranked Baylor Bears to reach the title match against Stanford. Rettke was huge against the Bears, with 19 kills, three aces and eight blocks.
13. Annie Pankowski

The California native was one of three finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Award recognizing the best women’s hockey player in the country, and she was at the forefront as Wisconsin’s women’s hockey team won the 2019 national title. The WCHA player of the year had 17 goals and 30 assists on the season to lead the Badgers to the gold.
12. Khris Middleton

Middleton made his first all-star team in February and has been the steady second option for the championship-caliber Milwaukee Bucks. He signed a contract in the off-season to stick around, and he’s averaging 18 points in the 2019 portion of the current season, shooting 48% from the field and 40% from three-point range.
11. Aaron Jones

Stats don’t tell the whole story for Jones. Through 15 games, he has 16 touchdowns and 984 rushing yards (4.7 per carry) and 431 receiving yards on 47 catches, plus three more scores. Those are fine numbers, but Jones has been invaluable overall, providing a threat in the running game that some stats regard as one of the best in the NFL.
10. Yasmani Grandal

The Brewers signed Grandal to a one-year deal, and he delivered, with an excellent .848 OPS and career-best 28 homers and 77 RBI, anchored by a tremendous final month of the season. The 2019 all-star also hit a two-run homer in the NL wild-card game that for a while looked like might provide the winning tallies, and he finished with a superb .380 on-base percentage. His departure in free agency for the White Sox gave him a well-deserved contract, but it leaves a gaping hole in Milwaukee’s 2020 roster.
8 and 9. Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith

How do we separate these guys? They’ve got the same name, were signed in free agency by the Green Bay Packers on the same day and conduct postgame press conferences side by side. And they’ve also introduced an edge we haven’t seen in Green Bay’s recent defenses. Having already secured double-digit sacks apiece with two games to play, they are two huge reasons why the Packers started out 12-3. Za’Darius had the performance of his season against the Vikings on Dec. 23, registering 3.5 sacks.
7. Josh Hader

Many will remember the frustrating eighth inning he had in the NL wild-card game, but he was among the game’s best relievers yet again for the Milwaukee Brewers, with a 2.62 ERA, 37 saves, 138 strikeouts in just 75 innings and a 0.806 WHIP. Video game numbers for the lefty, even though he did surrender a notable 15 home runs. He’s a big reason why the Brewers were able to reach the playoffs for a second straight year.
6. Markus Howard

The Marquette sharpshooter was named Big East player of the year and announced he was coming back for his senior season in 2019-20, when he promptly broke the school’s all-time scoring mark. He finished the 2018-19 season at 25.0 points per game, with 4.0 rebounds and 3.9 assists to boot. He’s shown up on numerous first-team All-American preseason lists, and he’s followed it up with a 40-point and 51-point game on back-to-back nights in Orlando, not to mention his record-setting 53-point performance in January against Creighton.
5. Aaron Rodgers

Statistically, this hasn’t been Aaron Rodgers’ best year. But as he’s said, he’s more invested in wins than stats at this point in his career, and it’s hard to argue the Packers still draw much of what makes them “special” from their future Hall of Fame quarterback. He delivered his first career perfect quarterback rating in a win over the Raiders, still has an uncanny ability to protect the football, and has led Green Bay to a 12-3 start and put them on a course to a playoff return.
4. Jonathan Taylor

As with Rodgers, you could argue this wasn’t Taylor’s best year statistically. But he rushed for more than 200 yards in three straight contests and caught a huge touchdown pass in the Wisconsin Badgers’ win over Minnesota to get them a berth in the Big Ten title game. He followed up with 146 yards rushing in the championship game against Ohio State. He’s got the most rushing yards of any player in NCAA history through his junior year, and he should make an excellent pro running back. In December, he was named the Doak Walker Award winner for a second straight year.
3. Rose Lavelle

Lavelle, a former Wisconsin Badgers soccer star, scored in the FIFA World Cup final as the United States went on to win the title. The 24-year-old, a three-time All American at UW, delivered a breakout performance during the World Cup. She played in every match, with two goals against Thailand, as well. Technically, she’s not a native of Wisconsin, nor is she playing for a Wisconsin-specific team, but it’s our list and we’re counting her.

2. Christian Yelich

It’s a little preposterous that he’s ranked No. 2 on any list. The 2018 MVP somehow outperformed his previous year in 2019, belting 44 homers with a 1.100 OPS (only the second MLB player to reach that mark in the past decade) as he flirted with another MVP and led the Brewers back to the playoffs. His .429 on-base percentage led the league and he won a second straight batting title at .329. A crushing injury in September kept him from being a full-time participant in the team’s heroic 20-7 finish to the year, but Yelich remains a full-fledged superstar.
1. Giannis Antetokounmpo

There’s a new sheriff in the NBA. The 2018-19 NBA MVP was everything to the Milwaukee Bucks, scoring 27.7 points per game with 12.5 rebounds and 5.9 assists per contest. He put the Bucks on the doorstep of their first NBA Finals since 1974 with a trip to the Eastern Conference finals (first time since 2001), and the Bucks won a league-best 60 games in the regular season. He was one of two “captains” for the NBA All-Star Game and threw down a dunk for the ages, one of many spectacular entries on his highlight reel. As fans wait anxiously to see if he will sign the supermax extension to remain in Milwaukee for the majority of his career, he’s back to leading the Bucks in 2019-20, guiding them to a 18-game winning streak and already netting one NBA Eastern Conference player of the month honor (he won four of those last season and two in 2019).

Sophomore Bowler Sammie Malley Is Sievers Equipment Female Athlete Of The Month For Jersey Community High School

Sammie Malley is an all-around great athlete for Jersey Community High School. She is a setter on the girl’s volleyball team and pitcher/outfielder for the softball team. She is off to a solid start this bowling season for the Panthers.

Malley, a sophomore bowler, is the December female Athlete of the Month for Jersey Community High School.

Malley credits her involvement in sports for helping her become the kind of person she is today.

“Without being involved in sports, I wouldn’t be the caring, cheerful, determined person I am today,” Malley said.

Malley, who’s coached in bowling by Chris Skinner, has enjoyed early season success on the lanes, with a 176 average thus far in the season. In a recent tournament at Taylorville, Malley finished 10th in a field of 100 bowlers, rolling a six-game series of 1,206, including a high game of 244.

Malley thanked her parents and her Panther teammates for their support and guidance in everything she’s accomplished so far.

“I want to thank my parents and teammates for always believing in me, and supporting me with everything I do,” Malley said.

Malley joined the Jersey bowling team last season, her freshman year, and has fallen in love with bowling and appreciates how much her teammates support her on the lanes.

“I started my freshman year not knowing how much I would love it,” Malley said. “I love the environment and the pressure, along with all the rapport with my team.”