Sunday, August 26, 2012

WSOC Match Report: Miami (Ohio)

Miami (Ohio) 4:2 Milwaukee
Sunday, Aug. 26
Engelmann Stadium (Milwaukee, Wis.)

Woman of the Match
Not to take anything away from the players that scored, but I'm going to give the nod to Kelsey Holbert. Holbert looked the most dangerous and did a nice job setting up Amy Kauffung's goal. Kauffung was a close second and the pair give the Panthers a nice future.

This was the first meeting between the Panthers and Miami (Ohio) ... Steinhauser's goal was the eighth of her career, most among active players on the team ... the loss snapped UWM's 11-game (10-0-1) unbeaten streak at home ... the last time the Panthers scored two goals in a loss was Oct. 1, 2010, at Texas (L, 4-3) ... Milwaukee has conceded four goals in back-to-back games for the first time since 1994.

Iron Woman Watch (Played every minute this season) 380 minutes
Forbes, Scott, Kaul.

Next Up
The Panthers hit the road to take on #22 Illinois Saturday in Champaign-Urbana.

Duke Invitational Notebook

Week one is in the books for the Panther volleyball team, with two wins and a loss to a Duke team that should compete for the ACC title and be back in the NCAA Tournament.

Each week, we’ll again have a brief notebook to pick some highlights and notes.

Last Week’s Results: 8/24 - def. Fairfield, 3-1; 8/25 - def. William & Mary, 3-1; 8/25 - lost @ Duke, 3-0

This Week Matches: 8/31 - vs. Bradley; 8/31 - vs. Western Michigan; 9/1 - vs. SEMO; 9/1 vs. East Carolina

Player of the Week: Rachel Neuberger, MB, Jr., Muskego, Wis. Neuberger figures to be one of the Panthers’ leaders on both offense and defense this season and she was steady and solid all weekend long. She wound up averaging 3.64 kills per set and committed just five errors all weekend, hitting .449 over the three matches. Her efforts landed her a spot on the Duke Invitational All-Tournament Team.

News and Notes: Kayla Price joined Neuberger on the all-tournament team … the Panthers had never played either Duke or Fairfield before this weekend … UWM is now 2-0 all-time against William & Mary … Susie Johnson is now 3-3 in season openers as the Panthers’ head coach … UWM’s starting lineup in the season opener was plenty young, as freshmen Maggie Dunbar and Nicole Latzig along with sophomores Julie Kolinske and Kayla Price earned nods in the opening seven … the 9-10 person rotation for the weekend also included two other freshmen – Maisey Mulvey and Sammi Herron … Milwaukee looks like it will have a balanced defensive effort in the back row, as four players finished the weekend averaging at leads 2.3 digs per set … Latzig made a nice mark on defense in the front row, averaging better than a block per set … Kolinske had double-doubles in all three matches over the weekend and opened the year with a 19-kill effort against Fairfield.

Friday, August 24, 2012

WSOC Live Blog: Milwaukee @ #13 Marquette

Follow along as the Milwaukee Women's Soccer team takes on crosstown rival #13 Marquette. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:30 p.m.

More Baseball Coverage From Bob Brainerd

As stated last week, Bob Brainerd, the voice and face behind the Milwaukee women's basketball TV games on Sports 32 and also the voice of the PA system for the Milwaukee men, can also write a good story.

His next featured article is on Chad Pierce, the Panther pitcher who was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 38th round of the 2011 Major League Baseball Draft after earning Horizon League Pitcher of the Year honors as a senior.

With his permission, here is the text. If you want to see the full article with pictures, click HERE.


When the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers Opening Day roster was paraded out in early April, the media darling was local product Chad Pierce (@pierce_chad). A former 38th round pick of the Brewers, the right-hander had a following in Fond du Lac as well as Milwaukee, where he pitched for the Panthers in college.

Pierce provided the feel good sound bites of spring, hoping that the positive vibes would trickle into the season moving forward. Looking back to his Pioneer Rookie League campaign was not an option.

“Right now, the confidence is there, but last year at Helena, if I had a bad outing it played on my mind,” said Pierce. “That’s not how I really am, and this year I’ve been able to bounce back after a bad outing. If I have one, I look forward to righting the ship.”

Losing was a shock to the system for Pierce, who possessed a bulldog mentality pitching for the Panthers. His senior season was stellar, named an All-Conference first teamer and tabbed the Horizon League Pitcher of the Year. But the roll he was on came to a screeching halt in Helena.

“Last year my confidence was completely shot,” said Pierce, who went 2-4 in 15 games with an ERA of 6.64. “I don’t know if I was worn down from the college season or what but things were rolling around in my head and they shouldn’t be. Especially in this game where you fail so much you can’t have bad thoughts in your head.”

Pierce kept rewinding the tape to his high school days. His accolades included All-State, All-District and Fox Valley Athletics All-Conference honors three times. Baseball America listed the Fondy ace as the fifth best Wisconsin prospect. When his scholarship at the University of Arkansas didn’t seem like a solid fit after two seasons as a pitcher and a catcher, his transfer back to his home state was a rebirth.

But the past for Pierce couldn’t compensate for a 2011 present that jeopardized his future.

“Last summer I even had doubts in my head if I even belonged there because it was bad outing after bad outing,” said Pierce. “When you have failure that much, it gets into your head if you belong.”

His tonic was a simple return trip to his roots. Pierce insulted himself with a blanket stuffed with positive cushion. He also changed the scenery from the mountains of Montana to the campus life of Milwaukee.

“During the offseason I cleared my head, worked out hard back at school where the coaches confirmed to me that I belong,” said Pierce. “I talked to (Head Coach) Scott (Doffek) and (Pitching Coach) Cory (Bigler) quite a bit throughout the season. My parents told me how much they cared…told me I could do it.

“I just got after it and came into this season with the confidence that I had in high school and especially at UWM. I wanted to get back to who I was.”

The Pierce of the past has taken the hill in the Midwest League with a renewed purpose. The 24-year-old has been able to strap himself in and ride the baseball rollercoaster with no fear, able to exit the ride, turn right around and maneuver his way through the turnstile for another spin.

“Last summer, I can’t say I was like that,” said Pierce. “I was tip-toeing around a lot and didn’t have that mentality in me. This year, I’ve been able to clear my head and get that back.”

Confidence and consistency are the buzz words Pierce dispenses in his daily vocabulary. Beefing up his offerings to opposing hitters also assisted Pierce to a statistical turnaround.

“This year it’s all about my confidence compared to the way it was in Helena,” said Pierce. “For most of my outings I’ve been able to throw three pitches for strikes. At UWM last year, it was just my fastball and my changeup, or some days, just my fastball. This year, for the most part, it’s been more consistent…my confidence is there.”

The proper mindset has allowed Pierce to keep an even flow and counterpunch the highs and lows of professional baseball. His best start to date was on July 26 at Kane County, hurling seven shutout innings allowing just three hits and striking out eight. But two starts and two weeks later, Beloit belted Pierce off the bump scoring seven runs on eight hits in just four innings of work.

“Even in a couple of outings where I struggled, I still competed,” said Pierce. “That’s the mentality that I need. Now, even the times when I’ve gotten lit up a little bit our coaches told me ‘Way to get out of it…way to compete.’

“That’s who I am, that’s who I was in college where I would have outings and give up five or six runs in eight innings but they kept on throwing me out there because I’m still competing.”

The undo pressure of performing in front of the homefolks didn’t compound the problems Pierce was dealing with a season ago. Where some players might press to impress, Pierce lapped up the friendly surroundings of friends and family.

“I’ve felt better at home than I have on the road, and I don’t know if it’s comfort or what, but I just believe in my abilities this year,” said Pierce. “Being able to throw in front of your friends and your family all the time, it’s not an added pressure, it’s an added bonus. It’s made this season one that I’ll remember for a very long time.”

Home cooking, literally at times, helped jog the memories Pierce accumulated as a prep and collegiate standout. An easy road trip down Highway 41, Pierce has been home a handful of times this season, grabbing a meal, sleeping in his own boyhood bedroom.

“This season has definitely been one to get me back on track to be the pitcher I’ve been,” said Pierce.

Besides the comfort zone environment, Pierce was also eased into the Timber Rattlers rotation by piggy backing with right-hander David Goforth to start the season. Even though it was out of the norm for Pierce, getting a taste on the tail end of a start proved to be a settling force for the future.

“When I was coming in after Goforth, I was coming in usually in the seventh inning, sometimes in the sixth, so I didn’t have as many innings to cover,” said Pierce, who made 15 relief appearances, winning one game, saving two more. “I don’t know if my body was a little more amped up because it was only three innings I had to get through. But to be inserted into a starting role is something I have embraced. I’m a player who has a lot of routine and now instead of having to worry about my routine coming in after a guy, I now know exactly when I’m going to go in.”

Pierce has not only reclaimed his bulldog demeanor, he has pushed himself to go deep into ballgames, relishing the role of an innings eater. And while the season and postseason are still in play in Appleton, Pierce is already looking forward to an offseason on an uptick.

“Throughout the year, you always think about something I might change in the offseason,” said Pierce. “I’ve been working on a little cutter here and there and that might be something I work on in the offseason. Right now, I’ve got my three pitches and I’m trying to work with them the best that I can and leave the tinkering to after the season.”

The offseason is also where Chad Pierce will set aside his time to dream. For a kid from Fond du Lac, who grew up attending and admiring games involving the Brewers, the fantasy seems all too real and tangible at times.

“I don’t even know if words can describe it,” said Pierce. “Ever since I was a little kid I dreamed about playing at County Stadium and now, Miller Park. I’m getting that opportunity right now and it’s definitely a dream. I’ve always wanted to play for the Brewers, and right now, I’m having a good season and hopefully people in the organization have seen that and they realize I have something I can bring to the table.

“It’s a surreal moment, and people that come to the games, whether they are 20 or 70, are wishing they were still out there playing. I’m out there and it’s a dream to play here and hopefully make it up to the big club.”

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

More Information for Milwaukee/Marquette Soccer

This Friday, the Milwaukee men's and women's soccer teams will be taking on Marquette at Valley Fields. For the men, it's not only the season opener, but also the yearly battle for the "Milwaukee Cup" as the Panthers look to post their third win in a row in the series. That game time is set for 6:30 p.m.

The UWM women play their MU counterparts after that. Although it's listed as an 8:30 p.m. start time, safe to say that even if the men's game ends in regulation, starting at that time will be difficult. The guess here (mine alone) is closer to 9 p.m.

Here is some more information, sent over by the helpful folks (Luke LeNoble) in the Marquette Sports Information Office:

Tickets for the long-awaited men's soccer season opener Friday, Aug. 24, at Valley Fields are now on sale through the Marquette University ticket office. Call 414-288-GOMU to purchase your tickets in advance. Kickoff for the Milwaukee Cup derby between the Golden Eagles and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee is set for 6:30 p.m. Central time.

Your ticket to the game also includes admission to the MU women's soccer match against the Panthers at 8:30 p.m. CT, immediately following the men's game. The first 500 fans in attendance will also receive a free commemorative t-shirt, courtesy of Lowland Grand Café.

Tickets for Friday's doubleheader are $7 for adults and $3 for youth. Marquette students get in free with a valid MU student ID card. Fans are encouraged to arrive early as there are a limited number of parking spots at Valley Fields. Gates will open at 5:30 p.m.

Free parking is available in the City of Milwaukee parking lot located on the west side of the stadium, or the east parking lot at Valley Fields. There is additional parking on campus at the parking structure located at 749 N. 16th Street. Cost to park in the on-campus structure is $3 after 5 p.m. (until midnight).

After the match, all soccer fans are invited to Café Benelux, (346 N. Broadway, Milwaukee, Wis., if Marquette wins) or Cafe Hollander (Downer Ave., if UWM wins) for a postgame victory party.

Additionally, Marquette men's and women's soccer season tickets can be purchased online at or by calling the MU ticket office. Single-game group tickets may be purchased for $2 for groups of 15-or-more people.

Directions to Valley Fields From Madison (Heading Eastbound on I-94) 1. Exit 26th Street (309B) 2. Take right onto St. Paul 3. Take right on 25th St. (heading south) 4. Follow 25th St. to roundabout and head east on Canal St. 5. Fields on left

From Chicago/Green Bay (Heading Westbound I-94) 1. At the Marquette Interchange head westbound on I-94 2. Exit 25th & Clybourn (309B) 3. Take a left onto to 25th St (South) 4. Follow 25th Street to roundabout and head east on Canal St. 5. Fields on left

From Campus (16th Street Viaduct) 1. South on 16th Street to middle of viaduct 2. Left at stoplight to bottom of ramp 3. Two additional lefts onto Canal St 4. Fields will be on right

Walking directions from on-campus parking structure (0.5 miles): Head towards the intersection of 16th Street and Clyborn. Continue southbound over the 16th Street bridge until you come to a set of stairs of the right-hand side of the street. Follow the stairs down to the lower street level (Canal Street) and walk west towards Valley Fields.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

WSOC Match Report: St. Bonaventure

MILWAUKEE 4:0 St. Bonaventure
Sunday, Aug. 19
Engelmann Stadium (Milwaukee, Wis.)

Woman of the Match
Amy Kauffung scored a goal and assisted on another to get today's Woman of the Match Award. Her goal was a great shot, while she did a nice job of setting up Vovos' score. Just before coming off, she did well to beat her defender going to goal and missed a second score just wide.

This was the first meeting between the Panthers and St. Bonaventure ... the shutout was Forbes' 22nd career clean sheet, second-most in school history, and her second-straight to start the season ... Forbes started the 2009 season with four-straight shutouts ... Zawacki scored a goal in her first collegiate appearance, the first to do so since Sarah Hagen in 2008 ... Kauffung started 21-of-22 games last season (primarily as a defender), but did not score a point ... Behnke's goal was her second career and her first game-winner ... Vovos' goal was her first since Oct. 26, 2009 at Green Bay ... Henschel's first win at UWM is also the 291st of his career (men and women) ... Milwaukee is unbeaten in its last 11 games at Engelmann Stadium (10-0-1) ... there was a 38-minute lightning delay in the 71st minute.

Iron Woman Watch (Played every minute this season) 200 minutes
Forbes, Scott, Kaul, Steinhauser.

Next Up
The Panthers head to Valley Fields Friday to play Marquette. Kickoff is at 8:30 p.m.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

WSOC Match Report: #24 South Carolina

Friday, Aug. 17
Engelmann Stadium (Milwaukee, Wis.)

Woman of the Match
Jamie Forbes made eight saves for shutout, including a couple big saves to maintain her 21st career clean sheet.

Some notable performances from Kelly Lewers, Helen Steinhauser and Demi Price. I was impressed by Lewers fitness and edge on the field. Steinhauser was everywhere in the midfield and played great. Price coming on seemed like a turning point, giving the Panthers confidence and more energy.

Six players played all 110 minutes (Forbes, Bestwina, Scott, Kaul, Condon, Steinhauser and Lewers) ... UWM now has eight results (2 wins, 6 draws) in 34 all-time games against ranked opponents ... this was the first meeting between the Panthers and SC, while Milwaukee is now 4-6-3 all-time against SEC teams ... the shutout was Forbes' 21st career clean sheet, second-most in school history ... Bestwina and O'Donnell made their first collegiate starts

Iron Woman Watch (Played every minute this season) 90 minutes
Forbes, Bestwina, Scott, Kaul, Condon, Steinhauser and Lewers

Next Up
The Panthers remain home, hosting St. Bonaventure Sunday at noon.

Friday, August 17, 2012

In Case You Missed It...

Bob Brainerd, the voice and face behind the Milwaukee women's basketball TV games on Sports 32 and also the voice of the PA system for the Milwaukee men, can also write a good story.

Recently, he penned a great article on Eric Semmelhack, the Panther pitcher who was selected by the Milwaukee Brewers in the 12th round with the 395th overall pick of the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft.

With his permission, here is the text. If you want to see the full article with pictures, click HERE.


Home may be where the heart is, but it also appears to be where Wisconsin Timber Rattlers pitcher Eric Semmelhack (@ESEMMEL33) builds his career on the bump.

The former Oak Creek standout parlayed his way into a Division 1 roster spot on the UW-Milwaukee Panthers, and then got drafted by his hometown Milwaukee Brewers back in June. After some initial seasoning in Helena with Milwaukee’s Pioneer League rookie squad, Semmelhack is back in the comfortable surroundings of Appleton.

“I can’t say that it has sunk in, really,” said Semmelhack, a 12th round selection by the Brewers in the First-Year Player Draft. “I know I’m a part of the organization, I know I’m here for a reason and a purpose, but it just feels like I got incorporated into Appleton’s team and I think that’s the way I’m going to approach things.

“I’m with one team, and if I try doing the best I can with that one team, eventually it leads to better teams, if I have success.”

How Semmelhack even positioned himself to begin his climb up the Brewers company ladder as an armed prospect is worthy of review when you consider this pitcher didn’t really pitch until late in the game.

“I was always a hitter,” said Semmelhack, who played in a utility role at Oak Creek High School. “I really started pitching my junior year of high school. I was very raw, throwing it around here and there. They needed arms, and I had an OK one at the time, so that’s how that happened.”

What happened next was a transformation. Semmelhack’s arm began to blossom but the right-hander was barely aware, fixated on maintaining the strong tradition of Knights baseball, State Champions a record three years in a row prior to his stint with the Knights.

“I wanted to go there and keep the tradition rolling,” said Semmelhack. “It’s kind of a legacy that the guys left behind and you don’t want to be the ones to go in there and mess up the tradition. You try to maintain that and do as well as you can. It was pretty hard to repeat what they did, but I just tried to keep the tradition going of good baseball players coming out of Oak Creek.”

Semmelhack was very good, a workhorse during his senior season, logging more than 85 innings on the mound, notching ten wins and nearly 100 punch outs. UW-Milwaukee saw the upside, while Semmelhack saw an opportunity to continue the climb up the learning curve.

“I got stronger as a person in college because I peaked kind of late,” said Semmelhack. “When I first got to college I was still just throwing the ball…they called me a thrower, because I didn’t have awesome pitches, just going out there and threw my fastball as hard as I could and tried to get it in the strike zone. That worked for a little bit in college, but then throughout the years, it was about developing better mechanics, more off-speed pitches, and toward the end, trying to stay down in the zone.

“That’s what it was all about and now I’m here learning a bunch of new things and hopefully keep incorporating them and getting better.”

From Head Coach Scott Holler at Oak Creek, to Panthers skipper Scott Doffek, Semmelhack was all ears no matter which Scott was in them. With such a small sample size on the mound, there were plenty of lessons to be learned for this true student of the game.

“I had a lot of good people giving me a lot of help,” said Semmelhack. “I try to take in what everybody tells me, and through the course of all the people and instruction I was given in high school and college it led me to where I am right now.

“I’m still very raw and new and I learn something new every day and that’s what keeps me going…that I can keep getting better and piece it together.”

Listening may be one of Semmelhack’s bonus traits, but he also possesses the ability to keep a keen eye on his counterpart on the hill.

“If something is working for somebody else I want to have the edge on that too,” said Semmelhack. “I take listening very seriously and the more you can take in the more you can see what works and what doesn’t. It’s all part of trying to grow as a pitcher and as a person. I appreciate all the advice I get and I try to use it to the best of my advantage.”

One feature film he just won’t watch is one starring himself in the lead role. Semmelhack chooses to let others watch that action flick.

“I always think about if I was hitting, what would I look like in the batter’s box?” wondered Semmelhack. “I don’t really watch myself, I just know how I did then let the coaches tell me what they think and work on it.”

Someone who has been watching Semmelhack play and pitch from an early age is Eric’s father, Mike. A basketball player back in his day, Mike never played baseball on an equal level as his son, but he was able to coach and team Eric the value of competing at a very high level.

“He was always coaching my traveling teams and fall league teams, and he coached me right up until eighth grade and high school,” said Semmelhack. “It was about going out there and doing the best with what you have. That’s been my drive since I started playing baseball. I might not have the best stuff but as long as I can go out there and compete and give my team a chance to win, that’s the main point.

“That’s what he preached and struck home with me…you’re not always going to have great days, fight your way through it and that’s what makes you a better player.”

The bond is somewhat detached now, at least for Mike. Like an expecting father, Eric’s dad paces the ballpark when his son is in the spotlight on the mound, too jittery to sit still in one place for a nine inning affair.

“That’s what he’s done since high school, just paces,” laughed Semmelhack. “Even with people he knows, like when Chad (Pierce) pitches, he’ll be pacing around.”

Eric’s pace has been hectic, to say the least, since he was plucked from the talent pool by the Brewers in June. Mike was the one who flagged down his son with news from the draft while his son was running pregame drills with the Lakeshore Chinooks of the Northwoods League. After six games in Helena, shuffling within the Milwaukee organization brought Semmelhack back to Wisconsin to continue his work in progress two hours from his home base.

Priority one: Continue to stop, look and listen.

“As a junior in high school I was throwing well, we went to State, and during the whole recruiting process I picked up tips,” recalled Semmelhack. “I even picked up stuff watching other people, watching Major League games and college games. I kind of have my own mechanics, that’s always been the harp on me that my mechanics were not always the cleanest, but it’s a lot of learning from other people and trying to incorporate things that may drastically fail, but other things kind of work.”

Cataloging all of these helpful tidbits is a job itself, which may help explain why the overpowering notion of a kid from Wisconsin playing in the Brewers organization isn’t so overwhelming after all.

“I think the other stuff comes in the offseason when people talk about it,” said Semmelhack. “We’re playing games and every day you have a focus and it’s not about being with the Brewers, it’s about improving my game.

“Sometimes you get glimpses of it, you’re able to step back and say I am a part of the organization and that’s a cool feeling. But in the grand scheme of things it’s all about focusing and worrying about that next start and getting through it.”

Eric Semmelhack may exhale at season’s end and savor the thought of home cooking on his plate. An Oak Creek Knight, Milwaukee Panther, and now Wisconsin Timber Rattlers pitcher…does he dare to dream of padding his hometown resume as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers?

“I don’t really consider it a dream, I think of it as a goal,” said Semmelhack. “We put all that time and effort that we can into this, traveling, playing baseball, working every day at it, so I think it’s more about achieving the goal. If I can, that’s great, and if I fall short with all the work I’ve put into it, that’s OK, and it’s back to the real life.

“But I’ll try putting off the real life as long as I can.”

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


Former Milwaukee women's basketball player Lindsay Laur is one of three players up for the selection for SEABL Women People's Choice Award for Round 18.
Head to the SEABL Facebook page and "Vote for Laur".