2nd annual squad features players from 15 schools

Aaron Sturdevant looks for a sign from his third-base coach last season. Sturdevant hit .427 to lead the Demons and will play football at UW-Whitewater this fall. (Rick Benavides/SLN)

 

 

By Mike Ramczyk

sports@southernlakesnewspapers.com

Last week’s All-Area Softball squad was dominated by western Kenosha County, with six selections representing Wilmot and Westosha Central high schools.

For baseball, the 15-team Southern Lakes Newspapers coverage area saw Burlington return to its second straight state tournament and had an 18-4 squad in Whitewater.

Wilmot finished 16-5, and Waterford was an impressive 18-8, while Elkhorn embarked on its first sectional appearance since 2011.

The area was ripe with catchers that could rake and dominant pitchers who will play at the next level.

Players like Jacob Lindemann, Garrett Gilbert, Troy Hickey and Ryan Jungbauer will play Division 1 college baseball next year, and 2017 SLN Player of the Year Zach Campbell, the second straight honoree from Burlington High School, dazzled with his abilities on the mound and at the plate.

The second annual all-SLN team consists of a first, second and honorable mention list and, just like last year’s inaugural squad, is dominated by the Southern Lakes Conference – with 17 of the top 20 boys from the state’s best conference.

Much like last year, the team isn’t limited to positions.

The top 10 players in the area, which includes 15 schools in Racine, Walworth, Kenosha and Waukesha counties, are on the first team, followed by 10 on the second team and a plethora of worthy candidates on honorable mention.

Team record, strength of conference and intangibles play a factor, not just statistics, when determining who goes where.

And postseason performance weighs in heavily.

Our talented team of sports writers, including Jason Arndt, Chris Bennett, Tim Wester, Kevin Cunningham, Daniel Schoettler and Dan Truttschel, all contributed their expertise, as they’ve witnessed and reported on tons of games this past spring.

Ramczyk, SLN’s sports editor, provides the final call, after careful, detailed research of coaches’ recommendations, postseason accolades, stats and the good, old-fashioned eye test.

Ladies and gentlemen, sit back, grab a cold beverage, and enjoy the largest area All-Area baseball squad outside of Milwaukee and Madison.

 

Coach of the year

Jon Anzalone, Elkhorn

The Elkhorn Area High School baseball team is in the midst of a renaissance, and coach John Anzalone is part of the reason why.

Anzalone just completed his third season as the Elks’ head coach. In recent years, he chose to emphasize integrity and citizenship, and the Elks responded in kind.

After taking some lumps in the first two years of his tenure, the seemingly always positive and upbeat Anzalone led Elkhorn to a breakthrough this past spring.

And late this past season, the Elks kept telling Anzalone they weren’t done. So they went out and won the school’s first playoff game and regional title in baseball since 2011.

Elkhorn, seeded seventh in its sectional bracket, beat second-seeded Madison West 8-7 June 6 in Madison for the regional title. The Elks beat 10th-seeded Milton 4-0 May 30 at home in a regional semifinal.

This is why Anzalone is the Southern Lakes Newspapers Coach of the Year for 2017.

 

Player of the year

Zach Campbell is the SLN All-Area player of the year. Check for his story online. (Rick Benavides/SLN)

Zach Campbell, senior, Burlington

(See separate story soon on www.myracinecounty.com)

 

First team

Aaron Sturdevant, senior, Burlington

A no-brainer for the first team, this UW-Whitewater football recruit was dynamite behind the plate, calling games and helping a young pitching staff develop into a seasoned bunch.

Sturdevant earned first team all-conference honors at catcher and second team all-county accolades.

He led the state-qualifying Demons in hitting with a .427 batting average and added 22 RBIs and 10 doubles.

Behind the plate, Sturdevant helped guide Burlington pitchers Campbell and sophomore Trey Krause to allow zero earned runs in two sectional games.

He displayed an uncanny ability to stop pitches in the dirt and possessed a strong arm all over the diamond to keep runners honest.

Coach Scott Staude often lauded Sturdevant’s defensive abilities and his intelligence in leading the pitching staff.

“Aaron is having one of the best years as a catcher I can remember,” Staude said back in May. “He is throwing guys out and calls the majority of the game. He’s been a rock this year, especially with our young pitching staff.”

 

Kyle Gendron, junior, Wilmot

The first team all-conference selection was a true flame-thrower, as he silenced the mighty Burlington offense late in the season and helped the Panthers pull off 12 straight victories before earning the start on the mound in Wilmot’s 2-1 season-ending regional final loss to Kenosha Indian Trail.

Gendron was the team’s co-ace, going 6-1 with a 1.16 ERA in 54-1/3 innings with 46 strikeouts.

“Kyle has that ‘it’ factor on the mound with good velocity and the ability to put the ball wherever he wants,” said Wilmot coach Josh Pye.

Gendron threw five complete games with opponents hitting only .223 against him.

When Gendron wasn’t pitching, he played third base and hit .279.

 

Jet Weber, senior, Elkhorn

The sure-handed shortstop earned a spot on the Janesville Gazette all-area team thanks to a .412 batting average and 23 runs scored.

In the field, Weber was at his best with an .895 fielding percentage, and he stole 10 bases.

Weber added an OPS of .961 and will play baseball at Indian Hills Community College (Iowa) next season.

He helped lead the Elks to the Division 1 Verona Sectional.

“Jet’s a great player with a great work ethic,” Elkhorn coach Jon Anzalone said to the Gazette. “I felt coming into the season that he was very capable of putting up big numbers offensively, and that’s what he did.”

“And his defense was outstanding. He made the routine plays look easy and had great range.”

 

Jason Curtis, senior, Whitewater

The 2017 Whitewater graduate did a little bit of everything for the 18-4 Whippets.

A first team all-Rock Valley North and Janesville Gazette All-Area pick, Curtis went 8-2 on the mound with a 1.78 ERA in 59 innings.

At the plate, he hit over .400 and struck out only three times.

“Jason had a great, great season for us both pitching and offensively,” Whitewater coach Jim Pease told the Gazette. “To have the kind of record he had pitching in a conference like ours, and with the schedule we play, is really impressive.”

Curtis will play at Rock Valley College in Rockford next season.

Catcher Nick Dugandzic embraces pitcher Matt Korman (2) after the final out of the Wolverines’ win over Burlington. (Rick Benavides/SLN)

Matt Korman, senior, Waterford

The talented multi-sport athlete makes his second appearance on the SLN All-Area first team in as many seasons.

Waterford head coach Lance Bestland said Korman was “pivotal” to the team’s 18-8 season and sectional final run, as he hit .371, good for third on the team, and drove in 22 runs to go along with a team-high 18 walks.

Korman earned first team all-conference and first team all-county honors.

He plans to join Campbell at UW-Whitewater next season.

Korman was second on the team with a .512 on-base percentage.

 

Gunner Peterson, junior, Wilmot

Peterson was a first team all-SLC pick thanks to a .449 batting average, which led the Panthers.

Peterson slugged .782 and walked 14 times.

The outfielder was also dominant on the mound, with a 3-1 record and 0.88 ERA in 24 innings.

“Gunner was by far our most consistent hitter and showed great plate discipline,” Pye said. “The numbers speak for themselves, but his energy and heart on the field is what separates him as a star.”

Peterson was a third team all-state selection.

 

Josh Leslie, junior, Westosha Central

With an eye-popping .416 batting average and 11 stolen bases, Leslie established himself as one of the best hitters in the area.

A first team all-SLC shortstop, Leslie added 37 hits, 23 RBIs and 11 doubles.

“Josh had a terrific season,” said Westosha coach Jake Mormon. “Josh had a tremendous work ethic and an internal drive to be great, and that’s what makes him such a special player.”

“The sky’s the limit for him.”

 

Nick Dugandzic, senior, Waterford

The honorable mention all-conference pick jumped up to first team when it came to all-county voting, and why wouldn’t he?

All Dugandzic did was hit a team-leading .409 from the leadoff spot and tied for the team lead in RBIs with 23.

The ignitor for the Wolverines paced the squad with a .541 on-base percentage and showed patience at the plate with 16 walks.

Bestland raved about his catcher’s senior season.

“He had a heck of a year,” Bestland said. “He was our catalyst. If Nick did well, we usually won.”

 

Jacob Lindemann, senior, Burlington

The 6-foot-5 specimen, who was the team’s all-state ace on the mound during the Demons’ 2016 state title run, had to completely change his game this past spring.

Hobbled with a right arm injury that required Tommy John surgery, Lindemann, who will pitch at Division 1 Wichita State University, had to rely solely on his bat and wasn’t able to pitch at all.

The power-hitting cleanup batter responded with a .390 batting average and a team-leading 30 RBIs.

Lindemann earned first team all-county and second team all-district honors, along with second team all-conference honors.

His clutch bat came up big at sectionals and helped the Demons advance to a second straight state tournament.

Jacob Lindemann slides home for Burlington’s sixth run in the SLC title game against Waterford. (Rick Benavides/SLN)

Second team

Garrett Gilbert, senior, Westosha Central

One of the better power hitters in the area, the Falcons’ catcher batted .391 with 34 hits, smashed 11 doubles and belted a team-leading three home runs.

The second team all-SLC selection was a first team SLN All-Area pick in 2016.

Gilbert will take his talents to Division 1 Creighton University in Omaha.

Gilbert finishes his solid career as one of the best power hitting catchers in the area in years.

 

Tanner Peterson, sophomore, Wilmot

Perhaps the youngest star with the brightest future, Peterson, a natural outfielder, was asked to play second base in 2017, and he answered the call.

Peterson hit .338 and slugged .455, adding 23 hits and 17 RBIs to earn first team all-SLC honors.

“Tanner proved he could hit any pitch in any count and use all fields, which is unbelievable for a sophomore,” Pye said.

The younger brother of Gunner, Tanner proved his worth to the Panthers, who finished 12-1 to end the season.

Look for Tanner and Gunner to challenge for player of the year honors next season.

 

Dale Damon, senior, Burlington

Dale Damon hit .360 for Burlington as a senior. (Rick Benavides/SLN)

Perhaps overlooked with second team all-SLC and honorable mention all-county honors, one of the 2016 state tournament heroes had another strong season from the left side of the plate.

Damon hit .360 and led the Demons with 30 runs while knocking in 15 RBIs and tallying an impressive .500 on-base percentage.

A strong defender at third base, Damon was second on the team with 16 walks and was hit by eight pitches.

One of the key figures in Burlington’s back-to-back conference title and state tourney runs, Damon was the state tournament MVP in 2016 and earned All-SLN first team as a junior.

 

Ryan Jungbauer, senior, Waterford

Ryan Jungbauer earned the win on the mound against Burlington in Waterford and did major damage at the plate with a majestic opposite-field home run. (Rick Benavides/SLN)

A 6-foot-6 slugger, Jungbauer quickly jumped out to seven home runs in 2017 before teams started pitching around him.

The Division 1 Northern Iowa recruit, who Bestland said will pitch and hit and is expected to contribute right away, earned second team all-SLC and honorable mention all-county.

“When you’re that successful that early, nobody throws you anything,” Bestland said about Jungbauer’s second-half numbers.

However, Jungbauer still managed to hit .343, lead the area in home runs and add 23 RBIs.

He had a team-leading 1.221 OPS.

 

Charles Robinson, junior, Burlington Catholic Central

Charles Robinson led the area in hitting with a .517 batting average. (Rick Benavides/SLN)

The Toppers infielder led the area with a .517 batting average in 2017 and earned second team all-county honors.

He added 15 RBIs and a whopping 26 stolen bases for a Toppers squad that battled inconsistency in the loaded Metro Classic Conference.

Robinson was a consistent hitter and showed defensive potential in the middle infield.

 

Troy Hickey, senior, Wilmot

Hickey is the left-handed version of the Panthers’ co-ace connection, and he battled injuries in 2017.

Despite only pitching 31-1/3 innings, Hickey fanned 44 and finished with a 2.23 ERA.

The Oklahoma State recruit added a .441 batting average in a pinch-hitting role.

Hickey earned second team all-conference honors.

“Troy had some early season arm issues, which led to a couple of rough starts early in the year, but once he got healthy he was almost unhittable,” Pye said.

 

Brady Olson, senior, Palmyra-Eagle

The infielder was the Panthers’ lone first team all-Rock Valley South selection.

Olson was one of the best hitters in the conference, which featured a dominant Beloit Turner squad.

 

Trent Jones, senior, Westosha Central

The Falcons’ leadoff hitter has been a force for the last three seasons.

Jones batted .379 with 33 hits, including a team-leading three triples.

A two-year captain, Jones is one of the best center fielders in the area.

“He’s a kid that’s always going to give you a tough at-bat,” Morman said. “He’s our spark plug. Trent is an excellent kid.”

 

Cameron Prailes, senior, Waterford

Cameron Prailes was one of the best outfielders in the area. (Rick Benavides/SLN)

The Wolverines’ center fielder covers ground like no other, turning extra-base hits into outs and making difficult catches seem routine.

“If the ball was in the air near him, it was an out,” Bestland said. “He had a phenomenal senior year for us.”

In a high-stakes, winner-take-all conference title tilt at Burlington, Prailes laid out for two diving catches to prevent damaging hits.

Prailes hit .353 in 51 at-bats and included 19 runs. He walked nine times and boasted a .450 on-base percentage.

Prailes earned first team all-county and first team all-SLC honors.

 

Trey Krause, sophomore, Burlington

If it was a big game, Krause was dominating it.

Whether it was his masterful performance in the conference title victory over Waterford or spell-binding breaking ball that beat Indian Trail superstar pitcher Ryan Hoerter in the sectional semifinal, Krause was able to blow out hitters with a strong fastball and crushing curveballs and changeups.

Krause emerged as Burlington’s go-to pitcher, when the team desperately needed a No. 2 starter, and it earned him a starting nod in the state tournament.

Krause finished the season 7-1 with a 1.59 ERA, including 48 strikeouts and only 22 walks.

He was honorable mention all-conference and honorable mention all-county.

Trey Krause went 7-1 with a 1.59 ERA in 2017. (Rick Benavides/SLN)

Honorable mention

Aaron Chapman, junior, Waterford

  • HM all-SLC, .389 BA, 25 runs, 18 RBI, 11 2B, .463 OBP

    Aaron Chapman, only a junior, showed off his hitting skills with a .389 batting average. (Rick Benavides/SLN)

Austin West, junior, Walworth Big Foot

  • 2nd team RVC South, .290, 15 SB. “He was the best second baseman in the league,” said coach Steve Bochat. “He plays to win and has a good head on his shoulders.”

Frank Koehnke, junior, Burlington Catholic Central

  • 2nd team all-county, .456 BA, 7 2B, 3 3B, 13 RBI

Chad Zirbel, junior, Catholic Central

  • .378 BA, 12 SB, 2nd team all-Metro Classic

Heath Dillenbeck, junior, Walworth Big Foot

  • 2nd team all-RVC South, ERA under 3, 3-3, two of three losses were 3-hitters, “Heath can play anywhere,” Bochat said. “He throws in the mid-70s, and he has great off-speed stuff.”

Noal Brouwer, junior, Delavan-Darien

  • 2nd team all-SLC, dominant pitcher at times, beat SLC champ Burlington

AJ Frisby, junior, Wilmot

  • 2nd team all-SLC, .321 BA, .464 slugging %, 1.000 fielding %, 16 RBI, .420 OBP, “Not only is he a good hitter, but he is an outstanding center fielder who tracked down every ball this year,” Pye said.

Luke Hansel, sophomore, Union Grove

  • .317, 13 RBI, 2-6, 2.41 ERA, 2nd team all-county

Luke Hansel, only a sophomore, boasted a low ERA and showed off his rocket arm in two quality starts against Burlington. (Mike Ramczyk/SLN)

Nolan Rebernick, senior, Union Grove

  • 2nd team all-SLC pitcher, HM all-county, 2.90 ERA

Alec Spang, junior, Union Grove

  • .367 BA, 6 2B, 11 RBI, HM All-SLC, HM all-County

Grant Tully, junior, Burlington

  • starting SS, .303 BA, 22 R, made dazzling, athletic plays defensively

Austin Pfeil, Williams Bay

  • fired 1-hitter in playoff victory, 2.47 ERA, 30 K, 34 IP, HM all-Trailways South

Jack Kuiper, sophomore, Williams Bay

  • .509 BA, 10 2B, HM all-Trailways South

Jimmy DuVal, Whitewater

  • 1st team all-RVC North, .360 BA, 13 RBI

Cobie Anderson, Mukwonago

  • .296 BA, 2nd team all-Classic 8, 34 IP, 2.26 ERA

T.J. Jacobi, Mukwonago

– 41-2/3IP, 4-2, 42K, 2.35 ERA

Tyler Love, senior, Lake Geneva Badger

  • .293 BA, .398 OBP, 7 2B, HM all-SLC, 2 3B, 13 BB, 7 SB

Colton Surges, junior, Lake Geneva Badger

  • .324 BA, 11BB, 12 RBI, .425 OBP

Nick Rockweiler, sophomore, Elkhorn

  • .286 BA, 2nd team all-SLC, OF, 18 RBI, 20 R, .429 OPS, .971 fielding %, 7 SB

Logan Mitchell, junior, East Troy

  • HM all-Rock Valley North

Frank Koehnke (left) and Chad Zirbel showed plenty of versatility for the Toppers. (Rick Benavides/SLN)

Area leaders

  1. Charles Robinson, jr., Burlington Catholic Central, .517 batting average
  2. Jack Kuiper, soph., Williams Bay, .509
  3. Frank Koehnke, jr., Catholic Central, .456
  4. Gunner Peterson, jr., Wilmot, .449
  5. Aaron Sturdevant, sr., Burlington, .427
  6. Josh Leslie, jr., Westosha Central, .416
  7. (tie) Zach Campbell, sr., Burlington, Jet Weber, sr., Elkhorn, .412
  8. Nick Dugandzic, sr., Waterford, .409
  9. Jason Curtis, sr., Whitewater, .403

 

 

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