Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 14 Middleton


By Steve Nielsen
Illinois & Wisconsin 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: Middleton
Preseason Rank: 14
2017 Record: 14-14
Conference: Big Eight
WIAA Division: 1
Head Coach: Tom Schmitt
Playoff Run: Sectional appearance
2017 Final Rank: NR
Returning Starters: 6
Returning Pitchers: 3

KEY PLAYERS LOST

Liam Belleveau, OF

TOP PLAYERS

Name State School Class Pos Commitment
Alan Roden WI Middleton 2018 C/OF Creighton
Luke Ballweg WI Middleton 2018 OF McHenry County JC
Nolan Kelliher WI Middleton
2018 INF Des Moines Area CC
Noah Casali WI Middleton
2018 2B  
Brady Schmitt WI Middleton
2018 LHP/1B  
Zach Shipley WI Middleton 2018 C
Joel Ticknor WI Middleton
2018 SS  
Cooper Holewinski WI Middleton
2018 OF  
Carsen Schulz WI Middleton
2018 RHP  
Derek Reisdorf WI Middleton
2019 RHP  
Josh Stumpf WI Middleton 2020 RHP

X-Factor

A bonafide No. 2 on the mound will be the ticket to how deep the Cardinals can go. Lefty Luke Ballweg (McHenry County JC) is the likely candidate as he returns a nifty 1.00 ERA with just a 2-2 record on the mound. Carsen Schulz was last season’s opening day starter but did not record a win in the spring and posted a 2.88 ERA. Derek Reisdorf could emerge as well, as he had some reliable outings towards the end of last year. Also keep an eye on sophomore Josh Stumpf who will likely see an even larger role in 2018.

Either way, Coach Tom Schmitt has options, but one of these four will need to be a lock down No. 2 behind ace Brady Schmitt.

STAT RAT

.459: Alan Roden (Creighton) led the team in batting average in 2017 and likely will again. He’s a run producing bat in the middle of the Cardinal lineup surrounded by returning seniors. The Cardinal table-setter is gone from last year, but there are options to get runners on base ahead of the left-handed hitting Roden. Expect Roden to have another big season at the dish and carry a potent Middleton offense.

OUTLOOK

The Middleton Cardinals play in arguably the toughest conference in the state in the Big Eight. They replicated their .500 (9-9) conference record with a 14-14 overall record last year and ran into Tomah ace LHP Connor Preilipp in the sectionals, who handed them a 2-1 season ending loss in heartbreaking walk-off fashion in the bottom of the seventh.

The Cardinals’ last state tournament appearance came in 2016 which featured a roster that many of these seniors were on as sophomores. Luke Ballweg, Alan Roden, Joel Ticknor, Zach Shipley and Nolan Kelliher (Des Moines Area CC) were all on the playoff roster, many off which played significant roles during the regular season. All that experience will be a big feather in the cap of the Cardinal roster as they look to make another deep run in 2018.

The lineup will be centered around returning first team all-conference selection Roden who hit .459 a year ago. Roden is a premium bat that is committed to Creighton and can play both behind the dish and in the outfield. Fellow senior Shipley can split time with Roden behind the dish as well a working in at first base. The entire infield returns for Middleton in the form of third baseman Kelliher, shortstop Ticknor and 2B Noah Casali which should be a strength of the team.

The biggest loss comes in the form of outfielder Liam Bellevue, but junior Cooper Holewinski who is an above average runner could fill that void as he saw varsity time last year as a sophomore.

On the mound senior ace lefty Schmitt returns a 5-1 record with a 1.62 ERA and an all-conference selection last year. The Cardinals return a ton of innings including Ballweg, Schultz, Reisdorf and sophomore Stumpf who saw innings as a freshman last year.  

BOTTOM LINE

It’s clear to see that Middleton has a ton of experience on a senior heavy team, a strong recipe for making a run in the playoffs. The Cardinals will be battle tested as they navigate a treacherous Big Eight schedule, something that should prove beneficial towards the end of the year. Middleton has all the tools to be a top three team in the conference and make a run back at a trip to Appleton.

Find more information on the 2018 Cardinals below:

+ Team Website
+ Twitter

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

PRESEASON POWER 25 COUNTDOWN