Steve Stricker leads after first round of American Family Insurance Championship

MADISON — The first round of the American Family Insurance Championship is in the books, and there is a familiar name atop the leaderboard.

Madison’s Steve Stricker shot an 8-under 64 at University Ridge on Friday and owns a 1-shot lead in the Champions Tour event.

“It’s good just to get off to a fast start, which is key out here,” Stricker said. “There’s only three rounds, so you need to have a do-it-every-day attitude. This was the first day and I did well today. I’ve got to do the same thing (Saturday) and just keep doing what I’m doing. Just keep putting it in play and giving myself opportunities.”

Stricker went through the first nine holes at 4-under, but it probably should have been better. He missed a putt on the ninth hole for par that still had him a little upset afterwards, but he finished strong on the back nine.

“Absolutely not [with] the way he’s been playing,” said fellow Wisconsin native Jerry Kelly when asked if he was surprised with how well Stricker scored. “I talked with him (Thursday), and he was, of course, complaining that he couldn’t make anything. I know how well he’s hitting it.”

It’s Stricker’s second year being able to play on the Champions Tour, and the event makes for a tough back-to-back with the U.S. Open happening the week prior. But the fact he serves as the host, and more importantly, knowing all the benefits the event has for the kids at the American Family Children’s Hospital, Stricker is grinding through.

“It’s a lot of adrenaline this week. That’s kind of what I’m running on, I think,” Stricker said. “It’s a big week for us, so I’m just going with it. I’ll hit the wall, I’m sure, next week.”

Before that happens, he’ll have to fend off a stable of players that are within striking distance of the lead. Brad Bryant, who said he’s playing simply to get himself prepared for the U.S. Senior Open coming up, shot a 7-under 65 and sits in second place. Two shots behind him is Colin Montgomerie, John Daly and Steve Flesch. Kelly is tied for sixth at 4-under and last year’s champion, Fred Couples, is at 3-under.

“Now, it’s actually more fun,” Kelly said of the second and third rounds. “It’s ‘let’s go chase Steve.’”

Mallards winning streak hits 10 with 4-0 victory at Lakeshore

The Madison Mallards are on quite the roll, running their winning streak to 10 games Tuesday night with a 4-0 win at Lakeshore.

Three pitchers — Justin Watland, Brian Martinez and Tanner Rogen — combined for the shutout, allowing just four hits and striking out six. Martinez got the win and Rogen the save.

The game was scoreless until the fifth inning when Drew Ober drove in Jayse McLean following his leadoff triple. Madison would get two more in the sixth thanks to an Ober single with the bases loaded. Jake Randa capped the scoring in the ninth with an RBI single.

Winners of 10 in a row, Madison owns the best record in the Northwoods League at 12-3, sitting two games up on Wisconsin and Rockford for first place in the South Division.

The Mallards now come home to take on Lakeshore at the Duck Pond Wednesday night. First pitch is set for 7:05 p.m. You can hear all the action on 96.7 FM and 1670 AM ‘The Zone.’

Mallards down the Kingfish to push win streak to nine

The Mallards beat the Kenosha Kingfish 5-3 Monday night to extend their win streak to nine games. That number ties the longest winning streak in franchise history.

The game was a defensive showdown for the first five innings with Dalton Wiggins throwing a no hitter through the first six. The scoring started in the sixth when David Vinsky came up to plate with the bases loaded and knocked in a grand-slam, pushing the score to 4-0. The Kingfish made a valiant attempt to comeback with three runs in the ninth, but it fell short, with NIck Morales closing out the game.

The Mallards continue their road trip Tuesday night with a home-and-home series against the Lakeshore Chinooks.

Walk-off HR gives Mallards an 8th straight win

It took extra innings, but the Madison Mallards have won eight straight games.

Things were tied in the bottom of the 10th inning when catcher Hunter Hisky drilled a 2-run walk-off homer to beat the Kenosha Kingfish 7-5 on Sunday afternoon at Warner Park. It was the first homer of the season for Hisky, a senior at Southern Baptist.

Along with Hisky, the Mallards were paced by shortstop Garrett Kueber’s two RBIs, and a 2 for 3 night from third baseman Tyler Plantier, who is now batting a team-high .412 on the season.

All of the Kingfish’s runs came in the fourth inning off of starter Dalton Morrow, who had his first rough outing of the year. But the bullpen picked him up, holding Kenosha scoreless the rest of the way. Trace Norkus was credited with the win.

Madison is now 10-3 on the year, the best record in the Northwoods League, and it holds a 2-game lead on the Rockford Rivets in the South Division.

The Mallards and Kingfish will meet again Monday in Kenosha with first pitch coming at 6:35 p.m. You can catch all the action on 96.7 FM and 1670 AM ‘The Zone.’

Mallards squeak past the Woodchucks for fifth straight victory

It took until the top of the ninth for the Mallards to pull ahead of the Woodchucks, in a low-scoring affair Thursday evening.

A pair of solo home runs hit by Tyler Plantier in the third and Jayce McLean in the sixth were all the Mallards were able to produce until their last chance at the dish. The bases were loaded for David Vinsky, thanks to two walks and another batter who was hit by a pitch. Vinsky was able to beat the throw as the Woodchucks tried to turn a double play, allowing Garrett Kueber to score the go-ahead run. You can hear the call below:

The Mallards victory keeps them sitting atop the Northwoods League standings at 7-3.

The Battle Creek Bombers are in Madison Friday and Saturday, then the Mallards wrap up the weekend against Kenosha on Sunday. You can tune in for each Mallards game this season on 96.7 FM/1670 AM The Zone.

Mallards extend win streak to four with win over Woodchucks

The Madison Mallards pushed their win streak to four Wednesday with a 6-4 win over the Wisconsin Woodchucks.

Jake Randa kicked the scoring off by driving a single to right field that brought in two runs thanks to an error by the right fielder. Jack Blomgren added a run in the second before the Woodchucks tied it up at the top of the fourth. The Mallards responded with a scoring double from Blomgren and a single from Hunter Hisky that brought Blomgren home.

Though the pitching was sporadic for the Mallards, Trace Norkus was able to come in and earn the save, fending off the rallying Woodchucks for an inning. Brian Morrell earned the win.

The Mallards are on the road again Thursday night at 6:35 at Athletic Park.

Mallards finish off sweep of Kalamazoo

The Madison Mallards finished off a sweep of Kalamazoo on Tuesday afternoon with a 7-1 victory.

The game was tied 1-1 heading into the eighth inning before a six-run barrage by Madison blew things open. The Mallards got home runs from Tyler Plantier and Jesse Forestell, while Jake Randa drove in three runs on the afternoon.

Dalton Wiggins provided a stellar effort on the mound, going eight innings, giving up just two hits, an unearned run, and striking out one as he picked up the victory. Jonah Smith came in the ninth to finish things.

The win moved Madison to 5-3 on the year.

It’ll be back to the Duck Pond on Wednesday night as the Mallards open a series with the Wisconsin Woodchucks. First pitch is set for 6:05 p.m. and can be heard on 96.7 FM and 1670 AM ‘The Zone.’

Shaq to perform at American Family Insurance Championship concert

DJ Shaq is coming to Madison.

Officials with the American Family Insurance Championship announced Tuesday morning that as part of the Champions Tour event, Basketball Hall of Fame member Shaquille O’Neil will perform at Breese Stevens Field on June 22.

According to the press release, Shaq will have two 20-minute performances. One will take place after the opening act — A Thousand Horses — with the second coming after country singer Sara Evans takes the stage. The night will be capped off by headliner REO Speedwagon.

“Shaq is truly larger than life, and we’re sure his personality and performance skills will add a fun and exciting presence during his visit to Madison and participation in our events,” American Family Insurance Championship tournament director Nate Pokrass said in the release. “For the price of one ticket, concert-goers will be treated to not only one act, but four, and we’re sure Shaq will help us raise even more money for charity.”

Shaq is a brand ambassador for The General, which is an affiliate of American Family Insurance.

You can find more information about tickets to the concert and to the tournament here.

Mallards beat Kalamazoo 7-4

The Madison Mallards went back above .500 on the season with a 7-4 win Monday night at Kalamazoo.

It was a 0-0 game in the third inning when first baseman David Vinsky drove a pair of runs in with a single to center. The Mallards added five more runs between the sixth, seventh and eighth innings in winning their second-straight game.

Centerfielder Jayse McLean had a three-hit night, while Tyler Plantier raised his batting average to .462 with two more hits.

Dalton Morrow got the start for Madison and was solid. He went four innings, giving up one earned run on six hits and striking out two. Though he gave up three runs over 4 2/3 innings, Jimmy Perkins got the win before the Mallards turned to Jonah Smith for a one-out save.

Madison improved to 4-3 on the year and will close out the two-game series with Kalamazoo Tuesday morning. First pitch is set for 11:05 a.m. and can be heard on 96.7 FM and 1670 AM ‘The Zone.’