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Mallards/Woodchucks Series Preview

For the final time in 2007, the Mallards and Woodchucks will meet for a two-game set with Wisconsin completely dominating the season series, winning all six meetings. With Eau Claire dropping to Green Bay Thursday evening, the Woodchucks moved back into a first place tie with Eau Claire in the South Division, and Green Bay is a half-game back.

Even though game two of the series was rained out, the Mallards return to the Duck Pond on a good note, taking one game from Mankato on the most recent road trip to keep their playoff hopes alive, remaining four games back of the Express and the Woodchucks.

Right-handed Eryk McConnell will be on the hill in hopes of breaking the Mallards losing skid to the Woodchucks. McConnell this season is 2-2 with a 6.75 ERA and has lost two of his last three starts. In his last three appearances McConnell has allowed a combined 13 earned runs on 30 hits. McConnell’s start Friday will be his first appearance at the Duck Pond since July 1.

McConnell’s opponent will be right-hander Willy Kesler, who is one of only three members of the Wisconsin pitching staff with a losing record at 3-6. Even though Kesler has the most losses on the staff, he has kept the Woodchucks in every game he has appeared in, but has not received the offensive support he deserves.

Kesler enters Friday leading Wisconsin with 66 strikeouts and has only walked nine batters. He has won two of his last three starts and has lasted five innings or more in all of his starts in 2007. Kesler’s 2.50 ERA is second best on the Woodchucks pitching crew.

Wisconsin, as a team, is batting .254 on the season, but the Woodchucks are hitting .315 against the Mallards pitching staff. Shortstop Vincente Cafaro is hitting .520 (13-for-25) with seven runs scored and six runs batted in. Unfortunately Cafaro is not the only member of the Woodchucks who is hitting .500 or better. Outfielder Brandon Frazier, who has played in all six meetings against the Mallards, has batted .458 (11-for-24) with four RBIs and five stolen bases.

For the first time this season, the Mallards have multiple players in the top 10 in the NWL in hitting. Brandon Wikoff is hitting .345 – good enough for fifth in the league along with 11 RBIs. Entering Friday, Wikoff has a 12-game hitting streak going (20-for-41) with 13 runs scored and seven runs driven in during that span.

Bobby Hubbard is on a four-game hitting streak himself, hitting .529 (9-17) with five RBIs during that span.
Randy Molina had his seven-game hitting streak snapped against Mankato on Wednesday; however, Molina remains in the top 10 in the NWL for hitting at .326 with 23 RBIs
The Mallards bats’ could be just the key to possibly taking this very crucial series from the Woodchucks and improve their playoff chances. Madison has collected 40 hits in their last four games and have scored a total of 33 runs during that time.