Most look at a small or largemouth bass and think of a spunky, green-colored fish that can create quite a stir in the water or when dancing on top of it.
Guys like Andy Morgan, Bryan Schmitt, Matt Stefan and Tom Monsoor see green all right — as in cash.
Morgan could see a lot of green, in the form of a first-place check for $125,000, if he keeps catching Mississippi River bass at the rate he has been the last two days. Morgan, of Dayton, Tenn., didn’t match his bag-busting first-day total, but he caught five bass with a combined weight of 14 pounds, 9 ounces Friday at the FLW Tour event on the Mississippi River.
That put Morgan atop the 160-pro leaderboard with 31 pounds, 4 ounces, and made him the man to beat as the field was cut to the top 20 anglers for today’s action.
A crowd estimated at 150, some covered in blankets and all wearing coats or hooded sweatshirts, made its way to Veterans Freedom Park near the Clinton Street bridge to watch the weigh-ins.
Bryan Schmitt of Deale, Md., caught five hefty bass on Friday that weighed 16-4, giving him a two-day total of 31 pounds. Matthew Stefan, a Junction City, Wis., pro who led after Day 1 with an 18-pound catch, fell to third despite a second-day total of 12-14, leaving him with a 30-14 total.
“I didn’t know if I would have a whole lot of fish left (in his spots),” Stefan said, “but I can’t complain too much. People said, ‘He’s a local, he should be able to win this event.’ I don’t know if I had any advantage.
“I will say if somebody would have told me before the event you will have a top 20, I would have taken it.”
There is a reason for that.
Only the top 20 pros get to fish today, and that field is cut in half for Sunday, the final day of the four-day event. In order to get a shot at the big prize, you have to be fishing on Sunday.
La Crosse’s Tom Monsoor will be fishing on Sunday, but for fun. The 68-year-old Monsoor had a much better second day, as he caught five bass with a combined weight of 12-15, giving him a two-day total of 22-9. That missed the top 20 cut by 5 pounds, 2 ounces. Just as important, it left him in 89th place, or just 2 pounds, 14 ounces, out of the top 50. Ounces equate to dollars, as the top 50 pros pocket at least $10,000.
“Actually I found one little spot that was clear on one of the 18 spots I had and I caught 15 keepers. It was on then,” Monsoor said. “Then I caught one down (near the launch area).
“I tell you, the last few days I can’t believe what happened with this rain and mud. I went to the first spot today and got my biggest fish. I was so bummed out it was muddy that I fished it anyway, and got my biggest fish. It took me two hours to get one bite. It had to be 3½, and it was spawned out, so it would have been 4 pounds at least.”
Monsoor, like many of the pros and co-anglers, found themselves battling changing water conditions throughout the first two days, and temperatures that feel more like early April than late May— the high Friday was in the low 50s.
“I wore my shorts yesterday and wore my long britches today (Friday),” said Lendell Martin Jr., of Nacogdoches, Texas.
Matt Greenblatt, a Port St. Lucie, Fla., angler who was in fifth place after Day 1 (16-1), struggled in Day 2, catching just three bass with a combined weight of 6-5. That left him in 90th place with 22 pounds, 6 ounces, and well out the running for the cut.
“What is there, a 40-degree difference? I had a tug-o-war with Mother Nature all week,” Greenblatt said, “and she is one, tough Mother.”
The challenge for the remaining 20 anglers that are competing today is not only changing water and weather conditions, but whether or not they have fished too heavily on their pre-determined spots. Or, did they save some spots in case they advanced this far?
“I caught them all in the first hour before (conditions) changed,” said Austin Felix of Eden Prairie, Minn., who had a five-bag limit that weighed 15-10 on Friday, leaving him with a two-day total of 30-11 and in fifth place.
“Then I left because I didn’t want to burn anything up. I tell you what, fishing close to home is awesome.”
Kendra Leis is a serious threat to any pitcher trying to throw a softball by her.
The Holmen High School junior was a known local commodity long before this season began, but she is making sure her name reaches every pocket of Wisconsin with the way she is swinging the bat for the Vikings.
Take the last week for example.
Holmen (19-6) won five games from May 12 through Thursday to extend its winning streak to eight. The contribution for Leis during a doubleheader sweep of G-E-T and wins over Onalaska Luther, Tomah and Aquinas included a .762 batting average, eight home runs and 18 RBI.
In one week.
Most players don’t hit eight home runs during their careers. Leis, amid a power explosion that includes her entire team, has 16 home runs and 47 RBI as Holmen prepares to host Madison West in a WIAA Division 1 regional semifinal at Viking Elementary on Wednesday.
“We knew we’d have power, but this has been something to watch,” Holmen coach Roger Foegen said. “When we hit eight (home runs) against Onalaska Luther, none of them were cheap.”
The most impressive aspect of what Holmen has accomplished is the balance. True, Leis is far ahead of her teammates in home runs, but the Vikings have six players with at least one on the way to 34 this season.
Senior Kylee Schams has nine and sophomore McKenzie Winker five. Junior Morgan Pellowski has two, while senior Cassie Schmidt and sophomore Sammie Chapman have one apiece.
It makes what Onalaska freshman Sarah Kraus did in one-hitting the Vikings on May 4 look much better than any of the three no-hitters she has already thrown.
“Good pitching will shut down good hitting, and that’s what we always have to remember,” Foegen said. “What I like is that we have a lot of people playing very well, and that makes it a little harder to shut us down.”
Holmen, by the way, hasn’t lost a game since Kraus and the Hilltoppers beat it 5-0.
It also doesn’t have to out-slug everyone when Schams is in the circle. She entered Thursday’s 7-3 win over Aquinas with a 2.10 ERA and 192 strikeouts in 142⅔ innings and added to that by striking out 10 Blugolds.
But it’s hard to look away from Leis, who had two home runs and 22 RBI as Holmen advanced to the Division 1 sectional finals last season. She has hit at least two home runs in a game four times this spring.
“She has been much more disciplined this year,” Foegen said. “Her hand-eye coordination is so good, and she’s gotten better as she has become more patient.”
The Vikings must have been at their most patient during Monday’s 22-11 win over Onalaska Luther. Winker slugged four home runs — the National Federation of State High School Associations list only one five-homer game in its record book — that day.
Foegen said Winker, a standout volleyball player, has the ability to grow just as Leis has as a hitter.
The victory over the Knights, who won nearly 85 percent of their games over the last decade, was a significant notch on Holmen’s belt. The Vikings also beat Chippewa Falls and Marshfield in big nonconference games.
Chippewa Falls, Marshfield and Onalaska Luther beat the Vikings eight times by a cumulative score of 105-19 in 2015 and 2016 before Holmen won three of four games against those teams this year.
Whether or not that success helps the Vikings put together another strong postseason run remains to be seen, but they’ve shown time and time again that they have the power to make anything possible.
MELROSE-MINDORO BASKETBALL ON THE MOVE: Melrose-Mindoro girls basketball coach Joey Arneson had no idea why his phone was blowing up last Thursday, but it made him investigate the reason for it happening.
Finding out caused a mixed reaction, but he has moved on and accepted it as a positive that the Mustangs have made the move to a different Division 4 regional and sectional next season.
Melrose-Mindoro lost one game last season, and it came to eventual state runner-up Aquinas in a sectional semifinal. With both teams returning just about everyone, there was instant interest in what would happen when the teams ran into each other again next year.
But the Mustangs were sent north, and the teams will have nothing to do with each other during regional or sectional games in 2018.
“I like playing teams that challenge us, and I liked the fact that we had to play Aquinas in such a big game last year,” Arneson said. “Does this increase our chances with out other goal of playing in the state tournament?
“A little bit, and that’s good for us.”
Arneson isn’t looking at the change as a state of entry to the Resch Center. Cochrane-Fountain City, Eau Claire Regis and Durand are all potential threats on the road to state.
With an entire starting five — Katie Christopherson, Calette Lockington, Mesa Byom, Erika Simmons and Emily Herzberg — returning and the hope for more depth to join it, however, the Mustangs have to enter as the big dog.
To make sure that happens, Lockington, Herzberg and Byom are playing together on the Wisconsin Flight Elite AAU team this summer. Simmons will play for the Wisconsin Playmakers and Christopherson for Team Wisconsin.
Arneson likes the fact that his players get the feel of competing with different teammates in the offseason. They also get plenty of time to play together and grow together with the challenge of following up a 24-1 season already approaching.
As for that quick one-year rivalry the Mustangs built with the Blugolds last season?
“I want to play Aquinas again next year,” Arneson said, “because that would mean we are playing each other (at state) in Green Bay, and that makes the game bigger than the one we played last year.”
CHICAGO — The Milwaukee Brewers got enough big hits and the assist they needed from their bullpen. And they did it in brutal conditions.
Jett Bandy and Domingo Santana hit two-run singles, helping the surging Brewers to a 6-3 rain-interrupted victory over the Chicago Cubs on Friday.
“It was tough, it didn’t feel like a baseball game for a couple of innings,” manager Craig Counsell said.
On an afternoon with a 46-degree temperature and 37 wind-chill at the start, Bandy walked and scored on Orlando Arcia’s bases-loaded infield single for a 4-3 lead in the fifth. The game was delayed 1 hour, 59 minutes in the top of the sixth, and Santana boosted the lead with his single just after the delay.
Arcia had three hits and an RBI for the NL Central leaders, who won for the 10th time in 12 games.
“It’s not just one person, it’s a whole team effort,” Bandy said. “It’s someone new every day. Some days the pitching picks us up. Some days the offense carries us.”
Chicago dropped to 21-20 as Cubs pitchers walked 10.
Wily Peralta (5-2) struck out five over two scoreless innings after a shaky start by Paolo Espino in his major league debut. Carlos Torres worked the ninth for his first save in three chances.
Coming off a three-game sweep of Cincinnati, the Cubs took a 3-2 lead to the fifth. But reliever Mike Montgomery (0-3) loaded the bases with walks to Bandy and Keon Broxton, and Arcia tied it with a single on a slow roller toward second baseman Ben Zobrist. Bandy came home when pinch-hitter Jesus Aguilar took a 3-2 cutter for ball four.
Milwaukee added to the lead in the sixth thanks to two errors on one play by left fielder Kyle Schwarber, who dropped Jonathan Villar’s pop fly near the edge of the infield and flipped the ball wide to second as he scooped it with his bare hand. That put runners on second and third with no outs and, after the delay, Santana lined a two-run single against Pierce Johnson.
“Schwarber made a great attempt at it, actually,” manager Joe Maddon said. “That’s normally the shortstop’s ball, but under the circumstances it was up for grabs, basically.”
Espino gave up three runs and five hits in four innings. The 30-year-old right-hander, who had pitched in the minors since 2007, was signed by the Brewers in November after three seasons in Washington’s system.
Chicago’s Eddie Butler lasted three-plus innings in his second start of the season, allowing two runs, three hits and five walks. The right-hander threw 46 of 92 pitches for strikes after tossing six scoreless innings at St. Louis last week.
Struggling RHP Jake Arrieta (4-3, 5.44 ERA) starts today for Chicago, while RHP Chase Anderson (2-0, 3.43) pitches for Milwaukee. Arrieta has a 7.27 ERA in his past five starts.
QUOTABLE: “He’s been following me and supporting me in everything. I was excited he was able to make it, flying in earlier from Panama. It was great. I saw a picture that he was in the stand. I saw that he got interviewed, so I bet he was excited I was.” — Espino on having his dad Alex fly in for the game.
NICE CATCHES: Cubs second baseman Ben Zobrist saved a run with men on first and third in the first inning, when he lunged to his left to snag Broxton’s liner for the third out. Broxton got robbed again in the third when Kyle Schwarber dived to his right to catch a line drive.
WHITEWATER, Wis. — The UW-La Crosse baseball team proved last week it’s able to beat No. 3 UW-Whitewater when the Eagles came back from a four-run deficit in the ninth inning to force a winner-take-all championship game in the WIAC tournament.
At the NCAA Division III regional on Friday, UW-L did it again, and got lifts from unlikely sources.
The Eagles topped Whitewater 5-2 in the second round of the double-elimination tournament, advancing to today’s semifinal round against the winner of Concordia Chicago and Adrian College. The Concordia Chicago-Adrian game wasn’t complete at the Tribune’s press time, but the winner will play UW-L at 4:30 p.m. today.
Whitewater will play an elimination game against St. Thomas at 10 a.m. today.
Sophomore Mason McMahon pitched six solid innings against the Warhawks’ tough lineup, allowing five hits and five walks. He allowed runs in the second and third inning, but in each instance the Eagles’ bats backed him up by evening the score in the second and taking a 3-2 lead.
It was McMahon’s ninth start of the season, and given the opponent, may have been his best for UW-L (30-17).
“He’s fiery, he’s feisty and really competitive,” UW-L coach Chris Schwarz said. “Mason has some electric stuff and went out there and battled.”
Usually senior Jameson Lavery would start in the second game of a weekend or tournament, but Schwarz felt Whitewater had seen Lavery too many times throughout his career. Lavery will be well-rested and ready to pitch in today’s semifinal round, Schwarz said.
Arcadia High School graduate and freshman Zach Pronschinske pitched 2⅓ innings in relief of McMahon, setting down six in a row to start his evening before hitting a rough patch in the ninth. After two batters reached base with one out, freshman Connor Cook came in and shut the door with a strikeout and a fly out to notch his first career save.
“Those are two freshmen that have developed and gotten better as the year’s gone on,” Schwarz said. “Two really competitive and fiery guys. We’re in playoff baseball, and we need guys like that.”
UW-L’s offense employed small ball throughout the game to create difficult plays against the Whitewater (36-8) defense, and it paid dividends late. In both the sixth and eighth innings, the Eagles scored on errors by Warhawks’ third baseman Cal Aldrige — one on a sac bunt attempt and one on a chopper near the bag — to tally insurance runs.
Senior centerfielder Joel Zyhowski went 2-for-4, sophomore Nick Pescheck went 2-for-5 with an RBI and junior Nate Roethle was 2-for-3 with an RBI.
“We wanted to move the pitchers off the mound and make the third baseman field those balls as well,” Schwarz said. “It put the pressure on them and we did enough to make those plays count.”