By Paul Lecker
The 2021 high school baseball season is in full swing as most area teams opened their seasons Tuesday, and with much anticipation.
A 2020 season that was canceled due to the pandemic has teams itching to get back out on the field, and leaves many squads without much game experience.
Stratford returns a few players from its 2019 WIAA Division 3 state championship team, as does Greenwood following an impressive 2019 season that saw the Indians capture the Cloverbelt Conference East Division title.
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Here's a look at the area squads:
Coach: Jay Anderson, first year.
2019 record: 7-10, 4-6 fourth place Marawood Conference South Division.
Roster: Seniors – Hunter Wright, P/SS, honorable mention all-Marawood South in 2019; Carl Lundgren, OF/P; Schuyler Gilhausen, C/P; Sophomores – Alexander Mikes, OF; Dawson Steczynski, IF; Trayton Weber, so; Ian Brown, IF/P/C; Timothy Schmitt, OF; Alex Willfahrt, OF; Conner Brandl, OF/P; Adam Kundinger, IF; Mason Rachu, IF; Sloan Welch, IF/P; Freshmen – Aden Cherney, IF/P/C; Kaden Anderson, IF/C; Caden Weinfurter, IF/P.
Coach: Ryan Hartmann, sixth year, 30-52 record.
2019 record: 1-14, 1-9 tied fifth place Marawood Conference South Division.
Returning players: Ryan Shaw, so., IF; Nick Leberg, so., IF; Jack Klatt, so., utility; Alec Sullivan , jr., P; Aaron Livernash, jr., P.
Outlook courtesy of the WBCA Baseball Wisconsin Guide: “The Royals are young, but there is a core group that if they can learn to finish a game could have some real potential. The pitchers will need to throw strikes in order for Assumption to seek success.”
COLUMBUS CATHOLIC DONS
Coach: Jared Krasselt, third year.
2019 record: 7-11, 6-7 sixth place Cloverbelt Conference East Division.
Returning players: Jadon Nienast, utility; Brock Bennington, IF; Cole Timmler, C; Cole Noreen, IF.
Top newcomers: Blake Jakobi, utility; Emmitt Konieczny, utility; Cy Becker, utility.
From Coach Krasselt: “(We want to) compete for a conference title and make a deep playoff run.”
Coach: Connor Handrick, first year.
2019 record: 15-8, 7-3 third place Marawood Conference South Division.
Returning players: Kyle Brewster, sr., C/P, second-team all-Marawood South in 2019; Konnor Wolf, sr., OF/P, second-team all-Marawood South in 2019; Brayden Baumgartner, sr., 1B/P; Drew Guden, sr., OF/P, second-team all-Marawood South in 2019; Austin Dahlke, sr., SS, first-team all-Marawood South in 2019; Jordan Bunkelman, jr., OF/P, first-team all-Marawood South in 2019; Kaden Goodwin, sr., 2B; Ashton Schuett, jr., IF; Brady Lemmer, sr., OF.
Outlook courtesy of the WBCA Baseball Wisconsin Guide: “The Wildcats are a very experienced team as most of their seniors saw a lot of varsity time as freshmen and sophomores. This team has a ton of high character athletes that are able to lead the varsity team along with be great role models to the underclassmen. Edgar has a very strong pitching staff that has a lot of depth. An added bonus is that three out of the top six pitchers are lefties.”
Coach: Kent Hinker, 14th year, 181-93.
2019 record: 18-3, 13-1 Cloverbelt Conference East Division champions.
Returning players: Jonah Hinker, sr., C; Cooper Bredlau, sr., IF/P; Xander Hinker, jr., SS; Sullivan Whitford, sr., OF/P; Mason Learman, jr., 3B/P; Austen Humke, sr., 1B; Westin Schmitz, sr., OF/P; Dakota Clark, sr., OF; Fletcher Bredlau, jr., IF.
Outlook courtesy of the WBCA Baseball Wisconsin Guide: “Greenwood’s fielding and the top of the batting order will be tough. The pitchers will need to throw harder and the Indians need a little consistency at the bottom of the batting order.”
Coach: Cale Cuddie, first year.
2019 record: 10-9, 8-6 fifth place Cloverbelt Conference East Division.
Returning players: Matthew Szymanski, sr., C/P; Brady Robida, sr., 1B; Brayan Soto, sr., OF; Deagan Sandelier, jr., SS/P.
Top newcomers: Louis Nikolai, fr., OF; Jacob Schill, fr., OF/P; Karson Pagenkopf, fr., utility; Drew Stieglitz, so., P/C/3B.
From Coach Cuddie: “(We want to) compete every single game, learn from successes as well as failures and continue to get better each and every game.”
Coach: John Southworth, first year.
2019 record: 16-13, 8-4 third place Wisconsin Valley Conference.
Returning players: Logan Homolka, sr., IF/P; Nick Urban, sr., OF/P; Simon Slade, sr., OF; Trey Montalvo, sr., utility; Parker Weik, sr., IF; Peter Earll, sr., C; Adam Zee, sr., C; Kyroden Swanson, sr. utility; Mason Pavloski, jr., P.
Outlook courtesy of the WBCA Baseball Wisconsin Guide: “Offense and depth should be the strengths of Marshfield. The Tigers will look to improve defensively and hope to build depth in the pitching staff.
Coach: Adam Olson, eighth year, 90-45 record.
2019 record: 14-7, 8-4 third place Great Northern Conference.
Returning players: Mathew Dudei, sr., 1B/P; Brayden Hoen, sr., C; Trevor Garski, jr., OF/P; Drake Grod, jr., 3B; Eli Miland, jr., OF/P; Tanner Unertl, jr., 2B.
Outlook courtesy of the WBCA Baseball Wisconsin Guide: “Although Mosinee will only have a couple seniors (which are good), their junior class is exceptional. Defense will be the Indians’ strongest aspect of the season, but their hitting should develop quickly for most of these quality players. Pitching depth will be questionable to start the season.”
Coach: David Matson, 16th year, 195-106 record.
2019 record: 15-8, 9-5 tied second place Cloverbelt Conference East Division.
Returning players: Jonah Zoschke, sr., 2B; Braden Trunkel, sr., OF/P (6-2 in 2019); Carosn Opelt, sr. 1B/P (2-0 in 2019); Carrson Mohr, sr., OF; Easton Switz, jr., P (3-0 in 2019).
Outlook courtesy of the WBCA Baseball Wisconsin Guide: “Neillsville’s outfield has good speed which should help support their pitchers this year. The Warriors have some experience that may carry them, but most importantly, team chemistry will ultimately be the key that takes the Warriors the farthest. Their pitchers must get ahead and make teams hit from behind. Neillsville has a number of left-handed arms, which is a nice asset. Playing good defense and making the routine plays will be key. The bats have to come through when the situations present themselves. The Warriors have good team speed, but they’ll need those big hits to close the deal.”
Coach: Wayne Sankey, 23rd year, 401-127 record.
2019 record: 19-8, 9-3 second place Central Wisconsin Conference South Division.
Returning players: Brycen Cashin, jr., OF; Drew Kedrowicz, jr., SS/P; Kadin Mayek, sr. 2B/P; Ben Haemmerle, jr., 2B/P; Nick Helms, jr., 1B.
Outlook courtesy of the WBCA Baseball Wisconsin Guide: "The Cardinals will be a very young team this season with only a few seniors, but their depth has gotten a lot better with increasing numbers in the program. The young group of players will need to focus on fundamentals and adapting to varsity baseball.”
Coach: Tim Buttke, fifth year, 29-22.
2019 record: 9-7, 8-5 fourth place Cloverbelt Conference East Division.
Returning players: Chase Higgins, sr., IF/P; Kyler Bainer, sr., IF; Dom Post, sr., OF.
Outlook courtesy of the WBCA Baseball Wisconsin Guide: “The Rockets have a legitimate high school ace in Chase Higgins. Spencer will need to develop some reliable pitchers to eat up innings and get outs.”
Coach: Marshall Lehman, third year, 22-2 record.
2019 record: 22-2, 9-1 Marawood Conference South Division champions and WIAA Division 3 state champions.
Returning players: Riley Bauman, sr., P/IF/OF, .316 batting average in 2019; Colten Schillinger, sr., C, .333 batting average in 2019; Kale Weisenberger, sr., P/IF.
Top newcomers: Hunter Ford, sr., IF; Max Vanderhoof, sr., IF; Camden Daul, jr., IF/P; Gavin Kirsch, jr., OF/C; Dillon Kirsch, jr., OF/IF/P.
From Coach Lehman: “We have two top players returning starters from our state championship team two years ago in Riley Bauman and Colten Schillinger. We are leaning on them along with our 10 total seniors to lead this team. We have a few underclassmen with talented arms to give us some good pitching depth this year. Our strengths will be our pitching and defense. If we are able to build some experience with our younger and inexperienced players at the plate, we will be able to put together a good run at the end of the season. Overall, this is a solid team that will have the chance to compete for another Marawood South Conference title.”