Homestead girls softball
The heart and soul of the powerhouse offense that drove the Highlanders to the WIAA state Division 1 championship is gone and graduated, but optimism is still a big-time trait for veteran coach Dave Keel.
That's because he returns state-tested junior pitcher Rachel Behnken and four-year veteran catcher Amy Keel (his daughter). He also has returning senior NOW All-Suburban outfielder Siena Mitman (who will likely move to first base) and junior outfielder Hannah Young.
"Those are the keys to success in softball anywhere," said coach Keel, of his returning battery.
Still, losing the likes of NOW All-Suburban selections shortstop Michelle Zoeller, third baseman Britt Schlaeger and pitcher Bekah Rennicke leave large holes for Keel to fill off his 23-4 squad that swept to the North Shore Conference title last year.
"Doing what we did last year gives the kids great confidence," he said. "Knowing that we could compete with the best in the state. We're not going to be beating up on people 12-2 like we did last season, but we're hopeful."
Behnken is healthy again after having a back issue dealt with last summer.
The Highlanders opened the season with a 9-4 win over Whitefish Bay on Monday as Young knocked in four RBI and took advantage of 13 Blue Dukes walks.
They host Nicolet at 4:30 p.m. Thursday at Thiensville Park.
Whitefish Bay girls soccer
The Blue Dukes are now 4-1, ranked in the top 10, could use a little more offense and a great group of his team is heading off on a long-distance school trip.
Other than that, the season is going fine according to coach Robert Williams.
"We'd like to find the back of the net a little more often," he said, "because the offense has been a little more of a work in progress. We have three freshmen starting and they're just getting used to the speed of the game.
"But on the plus side, we can finally talk about some depth. The Kettle Moraine game last week (a 1-0 win) was one of the first times in a few years where we were really able to wear down a team."
The Blue Dukes are entering their spring break and unfortunately, they had a game with North Shore rival Nicolet on Tuesday after six starters already had taken off for a school trip to Costa Rica.
"We'll hope for the best," said Williams. "We've had a lot of competitive training sessions and I think that has made us better. We're still working on combinations."
Whitefish Bay, Homestead and Nicolet boys golf
Homestead's Jordan Niebrugge was medalist with an 18-hole score of 67 to lead Homestead to a ninth-place showing in the 26-school Washington County Invitational on Saturday.
Niebrugge, a junior, had nines of 33 and 34 which included six threes and only one five. Senior Joe Tautges carded a 79 for the Highlanders who came up with a 324 total.
Whitefish Bay turned in a balanced score of 317 for sixth as senior Sam Richtman came in with a 74 and sophomore Jack Comiskey 77. The Blue Dukes did not have an individual score higher than an 84.
Marquette won the meet with a 301 mark.
Behind Noah Hersch's 79, the Nicolet squad was second at the 12-school Elkhorn Invitational at Evergreen. Nicolet came in with an 18-hole score of 330 as the Marquette "B" team won with a 321 mark.
Brown Deer boys golf
The Falcons got their season off to a good start by winning the first Woodland Conference divisional mini-meet at Grant Park on April 7. They came with a nine-hole score of 163, ahead of runner-up Cudahy, which shot a 168.
Nicolet girls soccer
The Knights senior night celebration at the end of the year will be relatively quick, as there are just three of them this year, but they might have much to celebrate as the team is off to an encouraging 4-0 start.
"We have a smart and efficient team and we're very excited about this season," Knights coach Tony Quintero said. "The kids are very motivated."
Nicolet has defeated New Berlin Eisenhower, 1-0, Baraboo, 5-2, Milwaukee Riverside, 7-0, and their North Shore opener against Port Washington, 4-0.
The only seniors who are starting are co-captain and forward Emily Spector and midfielder Macey Patrie and the other co-captain is junior defender Briana Lopez.
Quintero has been pleased with the work of sophomore midfielders Sara Travia and Nicole Dunn and noted that Lopez and Spector are tough, creative players.
A pair of sisters, junior forward Ariana Granados and sophomore midfielder Tatiana Granados, have transferred in from California and have added talent and depth to the team.
"We're going to be a very good possession team," said Quintero. "In our last game (against Port) we kept track of the passes and we had over 300 of them."
The Knights will be at Shorewood and Milwaukee Riverside's Eastside Cup this weekend.
The Knights are off to a 2-3 start this season and are still hoping to emulate the 10-15 overall and 8-6 North Shore mark of 2010.
"It was our highest finish in years," coach Brad Kuehl said, "and the biggest key for us to repeat that is confidence. Our pitchers are not going to blow anyone away, so we need to throw strikes and make plays on the field. Our fielders need to make the plays because if we're going to win games, it's going to be by outscoring people."
Nicolet is 1-1 in North Shore play having beaten Whitefish Bay and lost to Port Washington.
What Kuehl is going to rely on this spring is offense. Through five games he has at least six batters hitting higher than .300.
Leading the way is returning senior all-conference outfielder Emily Gadzichowski, who is battling an injury right now and is limited to DH duties.
Others Kuehl will rely on include senior outfielder Kinsey Dunst, junior first baseman Claire Maxon, junior second baseman Erin Miller and sophomore outfielder Jessica Kloehn.
Junior Cylie McAdams has come off the junior varsity to handle pitching duties.
Whitefish Bay boys track
After three of the four members of the 800-meter relay took the ACTs on Saturday at a different building on the UW-Whitewater campus, Blue Dukes James Stecker, Davontae Johnson, Justin Holt and Brandon Threats made it over to the campus's athletic complex with only moments to spare before the start of their race at the WTFA State Indoor meet.
No problem, as the group turned in one of the finest times of the state to win in 1:32.38 in a race that involved 29 teams.
"We got there about 12:15-12:30 and we didn't even have any time to set down any marks (for passing lanes)," Blue Dukes coach Joe Saggio said. "The passes were solid, not great but the kids went on instinct and did a terrific job."
The race has become a focal point for the Blue Dukes ever since they finished third at the state meet last year and set a school record.
Bay started the outdoor season at the Brookfield East Mike Gain Invitational on Tuesday.
Whitefish Bay girls track
Kenzie Vicker's return from injury remains right on track as she turned in a scorching time of 5:05.19 to take third in the 1,600 meters in the WTFA State Indoor meet at UW-Whitewater on Saturday.
University Lake School's Molly Seidel, a multi-time state champion won the race in an impressive 4:53.75.
Frankie Carroll was also third in the high jump at 5-0 even.
Ally Spiroff turned in two good efforts, taking 10th of 32 in the 400 (1:05.07) and 13th of 79 in the 800 (2:27.99). Sofie Yang was 10th of 37 in the triple jump (33-2 1/2 ) while the 800 relay team was eighth of 39 in 1:52.14 and the 1,600 crew 11th of 32 in 4:19.52.
The Blue Dukes opened the outdoor season at the Brookfield East Invitational on Wednesday.
Homestead girls soccer
The 2-0 Highlanders, coming off their state runner-up finish of a year ago, are still optimistic, but veteran coach Rich Dorn knows better than to be overly confident even with 16 returning letter-winners.
He's already short one premiere finisher in Zoe Ziegler (knee injury) and is relying heavily on freshmen Shannon Greeley (forward) and Brooke Szafranski (defender).
"In this year, the most successful will be the ones who can finish and the ones who can score," said Dorn. "If we can do that, we'll be fine, because we're well-stocked on defense."
The Highlanders are coming off spring break. They took on a dangerous Grafton team in their first North Shore game of the season on Tuesday and host D.C. Everest at 7 p.m. Friday.
- Steven L. Tietz
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