Former Mallards OF Derek Fisher debuts with Astros

ROCHESTER, Minn. — Former Madison Mallards outfielder, Derek Fisher, made his Major League debut for the Houston Astros on Wednesday, June 14, 2017. Fisher is the 177th former Northwoods League player to reach the Major League level.

Fisher, who played collegiately at Virginia, played for the Madison Mallards in 2012. He was drafted by the Houston Astros in the 1st round, 37th overall, of the 2014 MLB Draft.

In 2012 with the Mallards, Fisher hit .315 over 51 games and had eight home runs, 10 doubles and two triples. He also drove in 36 runs and stole eight bases.

Fisher started his Minor League career in 2014 with the Astros Rookie Level team in the Gulf Coast League. After one game, he was promoted to the Tri-City ValleyCats of the Short-Season A New York-Penn League. Between the two teams he hit a combined .310 with two home runs, three triples, two doubles and 18 runs driven in. He also stole 17 bases and scored 31 runs.

Fisher started the 2015 season with a promotion to the Quad Cities River Bandits of the Lo-A Midwest League. After 39 games with Quad Cities he was sent to the Lancaster JetHawks of the Hi-A California League. For the season, he hit .275 in 123 games with 22 home runs, 21 doubles and eight triples. To go along with those impressive numbers, he also stole 31 bases and drove in 87 runs.

A promotion again for the 2016 season saw Fisher begin the year with the Corpus Christi Hooks of the AA Texas League. He would play in 102 games before another promotion to end the season to the Fresno Grizzlies of the AAA Pacific Coast League. Over 129 games he hit .255 with 21 home runs, 21 doubles, four triples and 76 runs driven in. He also tacked on 28 stolen bases and scored 71 runs.

Prior to his call-up to Houston, Fisher had played in 60 games and was hitting .335 with 16 home runs and 45 RBI. He also had 19 doubles and had stolen 13 bases.

In his Major League debut against the Texas Rangers, Fisher started the game in left field. In the 6th inning he hit the second pitch he saw from Jeremy Jeffress for a home run to left field for his first Major League hit. Then again later in the 6th inning he would single off of Rangers reliever and former Brainerd Blue Thunder pitcher Dillon Gee. Fisher would finish the game 2 for 3 with a home run, two runs scored, two RBI and two walks.


Mallards split weekend series with Bullfrogs

GREEN BAY, Wis. — After a 20-1 rout of the Green Bay Bullfrogs (2-3) on Saturday, the Madison Mallards (2-3) split a two game series with their South Division foes with a 4-1 loss on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Joannes Stadium.

Roles were reversed from the previous night, when the Mallards belted 24 hits to the Bullfrogs five. Today, the Mallards were held to four hits from a Green Bay pitching effort lead by Connor Wollersheim (Kent State). Wollersheim threw seven innings and struck out six. Darren Kelley (Alabama State) and Nick Ohanian (Mesa CC) teamed up out of the Green Bay bullpen to shut down the Mallards by striking out five of the last six batters.

Green Bay jumped to an early 1-0 lead in the second before Madison was able to put their lone run on the board. Cade Bunnell (Madison) ripped a two-out double in the third inning to score Nick Schrader (Western Illinois), who was hit by a pitch a few batters earlier. Madison would not be able to cook up any more offense for the remainder of the afternoon.

For the Mallards, freshman Ryan Schmitt (Illinois) started on the mound and gave up one run through four solid innings in his first start this season. In the sixth inning, with Dom Savino (Albany) on the bump, the Bullfrogs were able to load the bases. With the bases jammed, Green Bay left-fielder Troy Johnston (Gonzaga) launched a bases-clearing double over Doran Turchin’s (Illinois) head in centerfield, bringing in three Bullfrogs.

The Mallards will now travel to Kalamazoo for a pair of games against the Growlers. The first of the two games is set to start tomorrow at 6:05 PM CST (7:05 PM ET). The Mallards next home game will be on Wednesday, June 7 when they take on the Rockford Rivets at 6:35 PM at the Duck Pond. All Mallards games can be listened to live on 106.7 FM and 1670 AM The ZONE.


Mallards offense erupts in 20-1 win over Bullfrogs

MADISON, Wis. — The Madison Mallards (2-3) dominated the Green Bay Bullfrogs (1-4) on Saturday night, winning 20-1. The Mallards were spectacular in all phases of the game as they tallied 23 hits, allowed just one run, and didn’t commit an error. The Mallards offense clicked as every batter in Madison’s lineup recorded multiple hits.

Centerfielder Doran Turchin (Illinois) had a spectacular evening as he posted a 4-for-4 clip, highlighted by a monster grand slam in the second inning. Turchin racked up six RBI in the game and reached base in each of his six plate appearances. The rest of the offense also performed exceptionally as every Mallard batter recorded multiple hits. Additionally, eight of nine Mallards knocked in runs.

“I was working on some things in batting practice the last couple days and I finally felt comfortable at the plate again”, Turchin explained. “We just didn’t want to give any at-bats away. We wanted to keep adding on. It is fun just hitting non-stop when you’re up there every inning or every-other inning.” Following his stellar performance, Turchin was named the Northwoods League Position Player of the Night.

The Mallards offensive outburst put the team back in the win column. Field manager Donnie Scott was pleased with the team’s aggressiveness. “They weren’t waiting to see if it was a strike or not, they were attacking. Everyone was in attack mode tonight. You don’t get too many games like that.”

Madison starter Luke Matheny (Oklahoma State) hurled a gem in his first start of the season. Matheny pitched five scoreless innings and allowed just one hit: a single in the fifth inning. Matheny struck out four while walking one. After posting the second-lowest ERA for Madison last season, Matheny seems to be picking up right where he left off.

With the win, the Mallards end the five-game home stand on a high note before hitting the road for the first time in 2017. They will face the Bullfrogs on Sunday, before traveling to Kalamazoo for a two-game set against the Growlers. When asked about the season’s first road trip, “I feel a lot better now. We were flat, that’s the bottom line,” Scott said. “We had the big opening night then just kind of went dead, so it was nice to see them rebound the way they did.”

The Mallards will return to the Duck Pond on Wednesday, June 7th to face the Rockford Rivets. The Mallards will host a food drive for Willy St. Co-Op Night. First pitch is set for 6:35 PM at Warner Park. Gates are scheduled to open at 5:00 PM.


Mallards fall to Chinooks in series finale 10-3

MADISON, Wis. — The Madison Mallards (1-3) dropped a second game to the Lakeshore Chinooks (3-1), 10-3 on Friday night at Warner Park. Kian O’Brien (Madison College) had a pair of hits for the Mallards and also scored a run. Centerfielder Doran Turchin (Illinois) reached base three times as he tallied both a double and a single and drove in a run.

After a quick first two innings, in which Mallards starting pitcher Mitch Vogrin (Illinois State) retired the Chinooks in order, the Lakeshore bats began to heat up. Zach Biermann, who drove in seven runs last night, delivered a heavy blow with a grand slam over the left field fence. In all, the Chinooks tacked on seven runs in the third to jump out to an early lead.

After the Chinook offensive outbreak, Mallards reliever Andrew Buckley (California) entered the game in the fifth with the team trailing 8-0. Buckley was extremely effective as he worked three perfect innings while striking out five. The efficient outing gave the Mallards a chance to get back in the game.

In the bottom of the seventh, Madison was able to chip into the Chinook lead. O’Brien smashed a leadoff single and Nick Schrader (Western Illinois) drew a walk two batters later. As the large crowd of 6,383 grew louder, Lakeshore pitcher Peter Bovenzi walked another pair of batters, putting Madison on the board. Thomas Smart (Oakton) was then plunked by an errant pitch to drive in another run. The rally cut the Chinooks lead to 7-2. The Mallards would add their final run of the night in the bottom of the ninth.

Madison’s lack of timely hitting allowed Lakeshore to keep a comfortable advantage. They recorded a baserunner in seven of the nine innings but couldn’t come through with enough clutch knocks. However, after tallying three runs in the final three frames against the Chinooks, the Mallards will look to build on some offensive momentum tomorrow night against the Green Bay Bullfrogs.

The Mallards welcome the Bullfrogs on Saturday night for the first time in 2017. First pitch is set for 6:35 PM at Warner Park. The game will feature The Great Dane Summertime St. Patty’s Day with an appearance by The Trinity Irish Dancers. There will also be post-game fireworks presented by Zimbrick Honda. Gates are scheduled to open at 5:00 PM.


Mallards open season with 11-6 win over Dock Spiders

MADISON, Wis. — The Madison Mallards slugged their way to an 11-6 season opening victory over the Fond du Lac Dock Spiders on Tuesday evening at Warner Park. The game marked the beginning of the 2017 Northwoods League season and also the inaugural game for the Fond du Lac Lake Spiders who were added to the Northwoods League during the offseason.

For the Mallards, Doran Turchin (Univesity of Illinois), Brock Weimer (SIUE), and Cade Bunnell (Madison College) set the pace offensively as they each knocked a home run to left field. The long ball proved to be essential to the Madison offense as eight of the eleven runs were driven in by home runs. After leading the NWL in dingers last summer, this year’s Mallards team appears to be following where the 2016 team left off.

To begin the game, after a scoreless top half, the Mallards offense wasted no time as Jett Manning (Frederick) led off the bottom of the first with a single into left field and then swiped second base two batters later. After hit by pitch, Turchin launched a three-run shot over the left field fence to give Madison an early 3-0 advantage.

After the Dock Spiders tacked on a run in the top of the third, the Mallards added a pair on a two-run bomb by designated hitter, Weimer. Madison took advantage of the short-porch in left field again in the fourth as Bunnell poked a slicing fly ball over the wall for a three-run home run. The long ball gave the Mallards a 9-1 lead.

“I was trying to hit the ball hard and on a line and I just got it up into the air and it felt good. I didn’t know that I got it out right away but I knew it had a chance”, explained Bunnell. Bunnell, a Stoughton, WI native went yard on an exciting night in his baseball career. “I’ve been coming to these games for as long as I can remember so it’s kind of been a dream come true. It’s a pretty cool opportunity”, he explained.

Right-handed reliever Ryan Schmitt (Illinois) relieved Heath Renz (UW-Whitewater) in the top of the sixth and inherited a 9-4 lead. Schmitt was extremely effective out of the bullpen as he struck out the side in the sixth then retired the side in the seventh. Renz earned the win as he tossed five innings, allowed four runs, none of which were earned. He also allowed only three hits and struck out three.

In the late innings, Manning and Brady Pfaadt (Bellarmine) both tacked on run-scoring knocks. Also, Chris Choles (NDSU) provided an additional two innings of relief.

Next on the slate for the Mallards is another contest with the Dock Spiders tomorrow at 6:35 PM at Warner Park. The game will be the second of a five-game homestand at the Duck Pond to begin the season.


Former Madison Capitols D Mitch Hults signs with Anaheim Ducks

MADISON, WI | The Madison Capitols, a member of the United States Hockey League, announced former defenseman Mitch Hults has signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Anaheim Ducks.

Hults, 22, played in 55 games for the Capitols as a defenseman during the 2014-15 season, and collected 13 goals and 21 assists for 34 points, and 90 penalty minutes. He is currently ranked eighth on the Capitols all-time penalty minutes with 90 minutes and 10th all-time with 21 assists. Hults is the first Capitols player to sign an NHL contract following his time in Madison.

The 6-foot-2, 205-pound native of Stoughton, WI, moved to the forward position and has recorded 54 points (20-34=54) and 98 penalty minutes in 76 games with the Lake Superior State University Lakers the last two seasons, 2015-2017.

Prior to joining the Capitols in 2014, Hults played two seasons with the USHL’s Indiana Ice. He registered 24 points (10-14=24) and 22 penalty minutes in 64 games with the Ice from 2012-14. Hults also won the Clark Cup with the Ice in 2014 with five playoff goals in eight games.


Mallards confirm manager Donnie Scott will return in 2017

MADISON, Wis. — As first reported by the Wisconsin Sports Zone Network in August, Donnie Scott will return as manager of the Madison Mallards for the 2017 season.

The announcement was made Tuesday afternoon via the team Web site:

The Madison Mallards have announced that Field Manager Donnie Scott will return for his fifth season. Scott, who led the Mallards to the playoffs in 2016, has a career record of 160-120 in Madison.

“I’m very honored and excited about returning to manage the Madison Mallards for a fifth season. The mission like, every year, is to contend for the Northwoods League Championship. The fans and the atmosphere at the Duck Pond make it so much fun to be at the ballpark! It truly is my ‘Field of Dreams’,” said Scott.

In 2016, the Mallards fell short in the first round of playoffs in a heartbreaking 8-9 loss to the Battle Creek Bombers. “I felt last season was a successful one and I’m looking forward to carrying that momentum into this season. I believe the 2017 roster that has been assembled is as strong as we’ve had in my time with the Mallards,” said Scott.

Scott has a very impressive resume with an overall record of 213-146 in the Northwoods League, winning two Summer Collegiate World Series Championships, his most recent in 2013 with the Mallards. He won his first championship in 2011 with the Battle Creek Bombers, where he was also named NWL Manager of the Year. Scott will look to add his third title in 2017.

“We are excited to have Donnie back again for the 2017 season,” said Mallards General Manager Tyler Isham. “Donnie’s professional experience and gritty approach to the game make him one of the best managers in the Northwoods League. Donnie does an excellent job developing our young players, while still putting an emphasis on winning. We are excited to see what he does with the group of young men we have coming to Madison in 2017.”

Scott was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the second round of the 1979 amateur draft. He made his MLB debut with the Texas Rangers on September 30, 1983. He spent time in the major leagues as a back up and part time catcher for the Texas Rangers, Seattle Mariners and Cincinnati Reds until he ended his MLB career in 1991.

After concluding his MLB playing career, Scott went on to manage the Rookie level Billings Mustangs (Montana) of the Pioneer League. Scott led the Mustangs to four league championships.

He returned to managing the Gulf Coast (Rookie) Reds after spending three seasons as Field Coordinator. He went on to have two tenures with Class A Dayton Dragons (Ohio), where he led the Dragons to the playoffs four out of five seasons.

Scott was named Manager of the Year in the Pioneer League in 1992 and Minor League Manager of the Year by Baseball Weekly in 1994. Scott has also managed two Midwest League All-Star games and has a career record of 689-569 (.548) in the minor leagues.

Scott, 55, resides with his wife Debbie in Pinellas Park, Florida and has two children, son David and daughter Dana. In the off-season he works at NextUp Baseball Academy.

The Mallards will be hosting a live video interview with Donnie on Friday, November 4 at noon via the Mallards Facebook page. Fans can join the conversation on the Mallards Facebook page and submit their own questions for Donnie.

Bucks confirm October preseason game in Madison

MADISON, Wis. — As previously reported by The Zone on June 23, the Milwaukee Bucks will hold a preseason game at the Kohl Center, facing the Dallas Mavericks Oct. 8 at 7:30 p.m.

The Bucks also announced their training camp would begin Sept. 27 in Madison, traveling to the Kohl Center for the second consecutive year.

“We are thrilled to return to Madison for a second consecutive year,” Bucks General Manager John Hammond said. “The facilities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison are unrivaled and we thoroughly enjoyed our time in the state’s capital last preseason. The Bucks proudly represent the entire state of Wisconsin and we look forward to connecting with the amazing fans at the Kohl Center once again.”

In addition to the training camp, the Bucks unveiled their full preseason schedule, which again includes six games.

  • Mon, Oct. 3 @ Chicago Bulls (United Center)
  • Sat. Oct. 3 vs Dallas Mavericks (Kohl Center | Madison, Wis.)
  • Wed. Oct. 12 @ Indiana Pacers (TBD)
  • Sat. Oct. 15 vs Chicago Bulls (BMO Harris Bradley Center)
  • Mon. Oct. 17 @ Detroit Pistons ((The Palace of Auburn Hills)
  • Wed. Oct. 19 vs Indiana Pacers (BMO Harris Bradley Center)

Bucks to hold October preseason game in Madison

MADISON, Wis. — In an exclusive interview with The Zone’s Eric Rogers, Milwaukee Bucks president Peter Feigin revealed the team will hold a preseason game at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis. in October.

Milwaukee will once again be partnering with the University of Wisconsin to use its facilities for September training camp before holding the October preseason game on an undetermined date. Last year, the Bucks beat the Timberwolves 106-88 in an Oct. 20 preseason contest at the Kohl Center in front of 12,381 fans.

Decisions on dates and opponents for training camp and the preseason matchup will be decided in the next 90 days, per Feigin.

Mallards Earn Split with Growlers, 4-2

The Madison Mallards (14-8) received a strong pitching night from starter and relievers alike in a 4-2 win over the Kalamazoo Growlers (13-11) on Wednesday at Warner Park.

The Mallards wasted no time getting the offense going in the first inning, as Nico Hoerner led off the game with a double, advanced to third on a wild pitch, then scored on an RBI groundout by Matt McCann.

Matt Vierling then followed that with a single and a stolen base before scoring when Cameron Frost reached on an error.

With the 2-0 lead right out of the gates, the Mallards then extended it to 3-0 on a solo home run by Zach Jarrett in the fourth inning. Madison starting pitcher Mitchell Kilkenny made his Mallards debut and pitched five shutout innings.

The Growlers threatened in the sixth, scoring a pair of runs off reliever Alex Smith, but Luke Shilling got the Mallards out of a jam that inning and added another inning of work.

The Mallards picked up some insurance on Growler defensive miscues again in the seventh, as Nico Hoerner advanced to second on a wild pitch, then scored on another error by Kalamazoo shortstop Connor Kopach.

Luke Shilling, Logan Sherer and Troy Bacon combined to allow just two baserunners over the final two and two-thirds innings to seal the victory.

The Mallards remain at home Thursday night to face the Wisconsin Woodchucks at 7:05 p.m. at Warner Park. Coverage can be heard live on The Zone.