Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 15 Webster


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: Webster
Preseason Rank: 15
2017 Record: 21-7
Conference: Lakeland West
WIAA Division: 3
Head Coach: Jarrod Washburn
Playoff Run: State semifinalist
2017 Final Rank: NR
Returning Starters: 8
Returning Pitchers: 3

KEY PLAYERS LOST

None.

TOP PLAYERS

Name State School Class Pos Commitment
Hunter Gustafson WI Webster 2018 SS St. Mary's (MN)
Trenton Wols WI Webster 2018 OF  
Caleb Pardun WI Webster 2018 RHP  
Jack Washburn WI Webster 2019 RHP/UTL Oregon State
Hunter Rosenbaum WI Webster 2019 RHP West Virginia
Trevor Gustafson WI Webster 2019 C
Bradley Sigfrids WI Webster 2019 1B

Newcomer to watch

It’ll be exciting to see Hunter Rosenbaum (West Virginia) on a high school mound again. Rosenbaum was ineligible in 2017 after transfering to Webster, robbing us of the chance to see how his advanced arm matched up against upperclass competition.

Rosenbaum wields a fastball that sits in the upper-80s. His secondaries are excellent as well. His curveball showed hard bite on the showcase circuit last summer and his changeup flashed deceiving sink. He’s ranked No. 2 overall in the state from his class because of his elite pitchability for his age. The only person ranked higher than Rosenbaum is his new staffmate.

Hunter Rosenbaum (8.2.17)

X-Factors

Most schools rely on seniors to provide added experience, Webster is going to need their seniors to hand over the driver’s seat to the class below them while they provide reinforcements. And they can also let their head coach Jarrod Washburn, an 11-year MLB veteran, handle the duty of bringing experience to the table.

Still, three seniors, SS Hunter Gustafson (St. Mary’s, MN), RHP Caleb Pardun, and OF Trenton Wols, are going to be critically important to the Tigers’ season.

If the Tigers need the runs for whatever reason, Gustafson will be ready to provide them. Gustafson was the only player from Wisconsin to be named to a Rawlings All-America team. He homered seven times last year, hit .518, and slugged .929 as a junior. He’d be the staple of most teams in the state, but on Webster he makes up a big three.

On the mound last year, Pardun backed up their team’s ace in a No. 2 role and he performed very nicely, with a 1.59 ERA. This year, they’ll need him to take over the No. 3 role in the rotation with Rosenbaum becoming eligible. Pardun as a sturdy No. 3 makes this staff that much more dependable.

Wols was yet another one of the team’s all-conference selections last season. He roams the outfield for the Tigers and hit .360 in 2017, mostly from the two-hole. He’ll likely slide back into that role again this spring.

OUTLOOK

Webster, the school of 200 students, a 2017 Division-4 state semifinalist, with a program coached by a former World Series champion, and a roster with the top two-ranked 2019 players in their state’s class, is one of the most compelling stories of this year’s Wisconsin baseball season.

The Tigers were a band of underrated underclassmen in 2017 and it got them all the way to a state semifinal matchup with Independence/Gilmanton in which they lost in extra innings, 5-3. Heartbreaking stuff. And there will not be a rematch in 2018, either. Because of WIAA enrollment rules, Webster’s baseball program was reclassified to D-3, meaning they just went from the biggest fish in WIAA’s smallest pond, to the smallest fish in a much larger pond.

That’s not going to intimidate Webster in the least, though.

In last year’s Lakeland West Conference, the Tigers ran away with the conference crown with a record of 13-1. Five of the nine selections to the LWC all-conference team were from Webster and all five are back this spring: Jack Washburn (Oregon State), Hunter Gustafson, Trevor Gustafson, Trenton Wols, and Bradley Sigfrids. And as if that weren’t enough for Coach Washburn, the Tigers will be buoyed by the introduction of Rosenbaum, the No. 2-ranked player in the 2019 Wisconsin class, right behind his new staffmate Washburn.

Washburn and Rosenbaum now make up the best one-two punch in the state, regardless of division. It’s a one-two punch even Muhammad Ali would envy. Washburn makes his mark on the mound with an upper-80s fastball that touched 90 mph when we saw him at the end of last summer. He’s got an aggressive slider, too, a swing and miss out pitch. He started for the Tigers in their state semifinal game and allowed three runs in the first inning but silenced Independence/Gilmanton for the next five innings through the rest of his start, once he settled in. Again, he was doing all this as just a sophomore last year.

It’s not as if the Tigers are going to need to score runs in bunches with the rotation they’ll deploy, but Webster’s capable of generating plenty of runs on any given gameday. Hunter is back and so is his brother Trevor Gustafson, a junior catcher who hit .368 and was all-conference last year. Junior 1B Bradley Sigfrids (yes, another all-conference selection) hit .366 last spring and will nestle his bat neatly into this lineup. Sigfrids recorded two of the Tigers’ five hits in last summer’s state semifinal. And also, no surprise, but Washburn’s .404 batting average as a sophomore will return as well.

Bottom line

This is a team presently without many on-paper flaws. They have the experience on their side, gained from a trip to state in 2017. They certainly have the talent in two D-I-committed pitchers. And they have a proven offense that boasted five batters who hit .360 or better last spring. They’re even extra motivated by a season-ending loss last year that was somewhat self-inflicted.

The only thing that snagged their chances at an unlikely run to the state championship was inexperience. Errors, maybe even nerves, cost them early in the state playoffs and even though the Tigers showed the willpower to recover, they still lost. Let’s see just how well this dynamic group takes to those D-3 waters this spring.

Find more information on the 2018 Tigers below:

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

PRESEASON POWER 25 COUNTDOWN