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Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 12 Hortonville


By Steve Nielsen
Wisconsin and Illinois Scouting Supervisor

The Wisconsin high school season kicks off on March 27th, the first day for regular season games.

Leading up to the opening week of games we will be rolling out team previews of high school teams all across the state and across all classifications, eventually launching our Preseason Power 25.

We will bring you a snapshot of what to expect along with top players and keys to success for that particular team.

Team: Hortonville
Preseason Rank: 12
2017 Record: 21-6
Conference: Fox Valley Association
WIAA Division: 1
Head Coach: Greg Yeager
Playoff Run: Sectional semifinals
2017 Final Rank: 14
Returning Starters: 3
Returning Pitchers: 4

KEY PLAYERS LOST

Bryce Cross, SS (Wisconsin-Milwaukee)
Zak Kosloske, C (Wisconsin-La Crosse)
Brock Young, 3B
Tyler Hafeman, OF
Colton Glocke, 1B

TOP PLAYERS

Name State School Class Pos Commitment
Connor Roesler WI Hortonville 2018 SS  
Kole Ellenbecker WI Hortonville 2018 OF  
Jase Krull WI Hortonville 2018 3B  
Lucas Wenzel WI Hortonville 2018 OF  
Drew Lauterborn WI Hortonville 2018 LHP  
Justin Bonikowske WI Hortonville 2018 LHP  
Jason Jennerjohn WI Hortonville 2019 RHP Eastern Illinois
Eli Kramer WI Hortonville 2019 OF Nebraska
Grant Mullins WI Hortonville 2019 INF  

X-Factor

We saw junior RHP Jason Jennerjohn (Eastern Illinois) over the winter and he showed us ace-quality stuff in return. At the offseason event, Jennerjohn put a fastball that sat 87-89 mph and paired it with a hard, biting swing-and-miss curveball. He committed to play Division I ball shortly after we saw him, too.

Jennerjohn returns to the rotation after a posting a 5-2 record on the mound with a 3.28 ERA from his sophomore campaign, and he also led Polar Bears pitching in starts. He will likely headline a staff that lost just one significant hurler from last year’s team. To be that ultimate ace come playoff time, he’ll have to lower his walk total in 2018, as his stuff is good enough to get anyone out. Jennerjohn took the lost in the sectionals last year allowing seven free passes over 4.2 innings pitched to Oshkosh North, even though the Spartans could only muster up three hits off the then-sophomore.

Jason Jennerjohn (2.17.18)

OUTLOOK

Hortonville cracked what had become a predictable Fox Valley Association Conference. Kimberly and Appleton North (but mostly Kimberly) had rotated winning conference titles for the past decade plus and the Polar Bears of 2017 thought it was time for someone else to bask in the Fox Valley spotlight. Though they didn’t knock off Kimberly entirely, and the Papermakers wound up getting the last laugh in the form of a state championship, Hortonville can forever say it forced the Division-1 champs to share their conference trophy.

Last year’s edition of the team proved to be a perfectly balanced mix of experience and talent. They made it to sectionals in a merciless D-1 pool because of it. The graduates will be sorely missed but the Polar Bears aren’t a one-and-done program and they should be vying for another shot at the FVAC title this spring.   

Hortonville’s strength will lie in its pitching staff as Jennerjohn is flanked by returning all-conference selections Drew Lauterborn (5-1, 2.55 ERA) and Justin Bonikowske (3-0, 1.08), both lefty seniors. Eli Kramer, Hunter Hanson and Liam Weber also return innings to the staff in 2018, though notably Kramer will be most valuable to this team elsewhere.

What Hortonville has in its strength in arms, it’s lacking in experience within a youthful lineup. The Nebraska commit Kramer is the top returning hitter, sporting a .328 average and even more impressively developed a reputation as an on-base machine in his sophomore season (.541 OBP). His numbers were good enough for a first team all-conference selection as an underclassman and he’ll likely hit near the top of the lineup again this year while patrolling center field. Senior Connor Roesler will likely move over to shortstop in place of the graduated Bryce Cross (Wisconsin-Milwaukee) where he led the team in RBIs from the three-hole a year ago. Senior OF Kole Ellenbecker is the only other varsity starter from last year’s playoff team.

Coach Greg Yeager will certainly have to fill some voids and could look to his younger classes to do so. He has some interesting names among the school’s 2020 and 2021 classes that could help out including RHP Parker White, LHP Reed Hafeman, C Jose Concepcion, INF Parker Lawrence, and LHP Colton Baumann could be some names called upon.

All in all, Hortonville should find themselves in many lower scoring games but will have the edge in these sorts of scenarios because of their depth and experience on the mound. Manufacturing offense with the dynamic Kramer and run-producing Roesler could be enough for their arms to lift them to another 20-plus win season.

BOTTOM LINE

The depth Hortonville has in their pitching should at least carry them to a respectable record in a very tight race for the top dogs of the FVAC. That’ll allow them to return to the WIAA playoffs for an opportunity to finish ahead of their sectional semifinal appearance last spring. 

There are a number of established bats in this lineup that can be counted on to set the table, but if there are juniors -- maybe even some underclassmen -- who step forward and take on larger offensive roles, all of a sudden the Polar Bears could become a threat to take home a second straight conference championship and a third straight regional crown.

Find more information on the 2018 Polar Bears below:

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PRESEASON POWER 25 COUNTDOWN