Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 13 West De Pere

By Andy Sroka
Staff Writer

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: West De Pere
Preseason Rank: 13
2017 Record: 18-10
Conference: Bay
WIAA Division: 1
Head Coach: Joe Rukamp
Playoff Run: Regional finalist
2017 Final Rank: NR
Returning Starters: 2
Returning Pitchers: 4


Kyle Kosobucki, C (Winona State)
Matthew McNabb, OF (Wisconsin-Oshkosh)
Cole Nelson, RHP (Marian, WI)
Cameron Shovald, RHP


Name State School Class Pos Commitment
Jordan Strick
WI West De Pere 2018 LHP Winona State
Dylan Govin WI West De Pere 2018 3B John Wood CC
Trevor Teske WI West De Pere
2018 RHP  
Devin Tyler WI West De Pere
2018 OF/1B Siena Heights
Nick Pawlak WI West De Pere
2018 C  
Connor Langreder WI West De Pere
2019 LHP Northern Illinois
Bennett Olson WI West De Pere
2019 SS/2B  
Parker Nimmer WI West De Pere
2019 2B/SS  
Zach Ziesmer WI West De Pere
2019 1B  


West De Pere saw a few of its most crucial contributors from last year’s squad graduate, leaving some gaps large enough to be filled with opportunity from the program’s underclass talent. Lucky for head coach Joe Rukamp, there’s a legion talent within the sophomore and even freshmen classes.

The Phantoms will be on the lookout for someone to grab ahold of the starter’s reps at catcher, and it could be sophomore Cameron Dupont who seizes the chance. He’s strong and advanced defensively and can hit, too. Fellow sophomore LHP Ben Hampton is a strike thrower and might budge his way into innings on varsity, even though it’s stocked with arms already. Coach Rukamp could always use a bat with the power 1B Bill Wyatt’s contains. And OF Josh Blount is athletic and could get some time in the outfield or on the basepaths to display is speed.

And don’t forget freshman INF/C Kaden Kosobucki. His brother graduated last year but was one of the team’s best players and leaders. He might be a year or two away from really contributing on varsity, but he has all the tools, just like his older brother.


Coach Rukamp’s going to be in the market for a new double play tandem and juniors Bennett Olson and Parker Nimmer may talented enough to earn the jobs. Olson’s smooth hands and strong arm should give him a good look at shortstop, while Nimmer quick feet and hands might give him the edge at second base. Nimmer’s also established himself as the fastest player on the team, so he’ll find his way into the lineup one way or another. Olson’s promising abilities to create regular hard contact should also earn him regular playing time.

Their glovework is what’s going to keep them on the field, though. This pitching staff will be relying on the trustworthiness of the defense behind them, so it’s imperative Olson and Nimmer demonstrate a sound defensive skillset, first and foremost.


West De Pere has been the class of the Bay Conference for the last decade, winning seven of the last 11 conference crowns, all under the tenure of Coach Rukamp. They’ve won three straight BC titles, too, and are the favorites to take home their fourth in a row.

They’re the conference favorites despite losing three core members of last year’s team: C Kyle Kosobucki (Winona State), OF Matthew McNabb (Wisconsin-Oshkosh), and RHP Cole Nelson (Marian, WI). Those three earned first team all-conference honors in 2017 and their absence in this lineup will be felt, especially at the start of the spring while Coach Rukamp tinkers with his lineup in order to identify the right combination of players that can take them back state, potentially.

The Phantoms will be afforded some time to figure out what their best defensive alignment and lineup look like because their strength remains in their starting pitching. West De Pere is returning most of their best arms, including junior LHP Connor Langreder (Northern Illinois). Langreder might be handed the No. 2 role in this rotation, but Langreder still has ace-like stuff. He’s the No. 3-ranked left-handed pitcher in Wisconsin’s 2019 class, on our list, because of his mid-80s fastball that pairs very well with his sweeping curve. He was 3-0 last year with a 1.83 ERA as just a sophomore.

Connor Langreder (8.2.17)

Senior RHP Jordan Strick (Winona State) might be the one taking the ball on opening day for the Phantoms, and he’s earned it. He was 5-2 last year with a 2.33 ERA. Strick’s experience will help him lead this staff, considering this talented rotation will be the reason makes it further than last year and onto the state playoffs. Fellow senior RHP Trevor Teske was reliable last year and featured another sub-3.00 ERA that this team will deploy this spring. He’s ranked as the No. 38 right-handed pitcher in his state’s class, mainly because of the physical projection he still holds. He’s 6-foot-5, 200 pounds and may be able to unlock some more velocity in his senior season that could push the Phantoms to another level.

This rotation is dependable and it’s the reason why West De Pere is once again the favorite to represent the BC once summer rolls around. But they’ll still need to score some runs.

For that, they’ll be leaning on their one returning all-conference pick from a season ago, 3B Dylan Govin (John Wood CC). Govin hit .337 last season, the best mark among returnees, and will be counted on to be the main source of runs within this year’s edition of West De Pere’s lineup. He’ll be joined by fellow seniors OF Devin Tyler (.305 batting average last year), OF Cal Jensen (.265), and C Nick Pawlak (.250). Pawlak’s duties go beyond his part in the batter’s box, too. He’s taking over for the graduated Kosobucki who captained this quality staff for so long from behind the plate. Coach Rukamp called him a steady defender so it should be well within his abilities to receive this experienced and strike-throwing staff. 


The Phantoms are assured that their pitching staff can be trusted to carry them most of the way this year. It’s deep and filled with arms that can command their arsenals and even has a little upside to go along with it. If it can take a step forward in ability, then watch out because it’s going to be capable of winning much more its conference yet again. And they don’t need a ton of help from their offense, either, just some. They have a pretty talented junior class and even some impactful underclassmen who may be able to help churn out some runs.

This rotation is gifted enough to earn West De Pere a spot at No. 13 on our preseason list and it might even help them climb into the top 10 as the season progresses. If/when their offense clicks, the Phantoms will become a serious Division-1 threat.

Find more information on the 2018 Phantoms below:

+ Full Schedule
+ Team Website

Make sure to follow @PBRWisconsin on Twitter for the most up-to-date coverage throughout the season.