Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 2 Oak Creek

By Diego Solares
Wisconsin Staff

The Wisconsin high school baseball season kicks off on April 27, opening day for regular season action under WIAA regulations. Over the next several weeks, leading up to opening day, we’ll be publishing our team previews ahead of the 2021 spring season, touching on programs spanning all state classifications, leading into a countdown through the official PBR Wisconsin Preseason Power 25 Rankings.

Perennially, we’ve submitted a Preseason Questionnaire to high school head coaches across the entire state. Their responses have been flooding in and we’re using the detailed insight they’ve provided in our team-by-team preseason analysis. These preseason previews are also assembled with the help of Joe Waite and his comprehensive Baseball Wisconsin Yearbook, and the 2021 edition will soon be available for purchase here.

Our 2021 preseason coverage continues today.

Team: Oak Creek
Preseason Rank: No. 2
2019 Record: 23-7
Conference: Southeast
WIAA Division: 1
Head Coach: Scott Holler


Isaac Engelbrecht RHP 2021 Fort Scott CC
Tyler Gall RHP/OF 2021 Bryant & Stratton JC
Maximus Graetz RHP 2021 Bryant & Stratton JC
Tyler Peck RHP 2021 Ohio
Zach Peterson INF 2021 -
Jacob Thoresen RHP 2021 Lake County CC
Luke Klekamp RHP/OF 2022 -
Brett Lucas 1B/LHP 2022 -
Cole Rodriguez INF 2022 -
Ryan Santi C/1B 2022 -
Evan Calderon C 2023  
Max Hennemann INF 2023 -
Nathan Hanel C 2024 -
Cade Palkowski OF/LHP 2024 -
C.J. Trask INF 2024 -


Oak Creek head coach Scott Holler enters this spring just eight wins away from his 400th career victory mark – an achievement that only a handful of previous WIAA coaches have ever reached. Had it not been for last season’s sudden shutdown, Holler would’ve become the fastest coach in WIAA history to reach that mark.

Now in his 17th year at the helm of Oak Creek’s program, Holler and this Knights roster is dripping with talent from top to bottom. They’re not only poised to claim their first-ever Southeast Conference title after making the transition from summer to spring ball, but Oak Creek has as strong of a chance as anyone in the state to win the D1 state championship.

The unquestioned strength for the Knights’ is their pitching – a unit that boasts several highly touted prospects across multiple graduating classes that could arguably be the best staff in the state. Aside from the talent, Oak Creek will have most of their innings covered by upperclassmen with varsity experience under their belts.

Three former PBR Future Games invitees find themselves nestled within the Knights’ rotation, the first being senior RHP Tyler Peck (Ohio commit). A 6-foot-2, 200-pound right-hander, Peck is expected to handle frontline responsibilities for the Knights as their projected Opening Day starter. He boasts a quality four-pitch repertoire with a mid-to-high-80s fastball that we’ve seen reach an 88 mph high in the past. Peck compliments his heater with two distinct breaking balls; a more vertically spun curveball that’s flashed sharp action and a late-breaking sweep-ish slider he can locate for strikes. Completing Peck’s arsenal is a firm changeup thrown at fastball arm speed that plays in the low-80s mph range. Peck brings a stable and experienced presence to the top of Oak Creek’s rotation.

Tyler Peck (3/1/20)

Right behind him is another former Future Games invitee: junior RHP Luke Klekamp (uncommitted). Long known for his competitiveness and pitchability on the mound, the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Klekamp made some major developmental strides this off-season and he’s now firmly entrenched as one of the top arms across the Badger State. He came out and filled up the zone with an 89-90 mph fastball at the South Milwaukee Preseason I.D. last month, a four-to-five mph increase from what we saw in the summer. Klekamp’s command hasn’t wavered with the velocity bump as he continues to land all of his off-speed pitches for strikes, too. Aside from being an integral piece to their pitching plans, Klekamp is also slated to bat third in the Knights’ projected lineup and he’ll play the outfield on days that he’s not pitching.

Luke Klekamp (3/7/21)

Next up in this Knights’ rotation is RHP/OF Tyler Gall (Bryant & Stratton). Gall saw his prospect stock rise throughout the summer after an impressive outing at the Badger State Battle, where he struckout 11 batters and allowed only a handful of hits. Gall’s fastball plays in the low-to-mid-80s range and his ability to spin two distinct breaking balls, both of which have flashed sharp wrinkle action, is what makes him a valuable asset on the mound. He’s an interesting follow on offense too, with an athletic right-handed stroke that’s currently penciled into a middle of the order spot for Oak Creek.

Tyler Gall (7/5/2020)

Further adding to an already loaded pitching staff are RHP Jacob Thoresen (College of Lake County) and RHP Isaac Engelbrecht (Fort Scott CC), two prospects that would easily be top-of-the-rotation type arms for a large majority of WIAA teams. Thoresen boasts a strong, durable 6-foot-1, 199-pound frame and he attacks hitters with a firm mid-80s fastball that tops out at 86 mph. The third Future Games participant on this pitching staff, Engelbrecht boasts a professional and muscular 6-foot-3, 195-pound frame that still has room to add even more strength. We haven’t seen him pitch in person since March of last year, so we’re excited to see the progress he’s made on the mound since then.

The Knights’ offense has a handful of upperclassmen that’ll slot into everyday roles, but they’ll have several young and inexperienced athletes playing key defensive positions for them on a game-to-game basis. Senior INF Zach Peterson (uncommitted) is the life source on offense for Oak Creek and they’ll be without him until late May as he recovers from an injury. Those are some heavy shoes to fill, as Peterson has been a staple for Oak Creek since his high school career began, and it’ll likely be C/INF Evan Calderon (2023) who fills in until he returns.

Junior CIF Cole Rodriguez (uncommitted) and junior C/1B Ryan Santi (uncommitted) are two upperclassmen that project to play everyday for this team. Santi, in particular, showed well at last month’s Milwaukee Preseason I.D. after he took a quality round of batting practice and held his own when catching several high-octane arms throughout his defensive workout - something he’ll absolutely have to do this spring given the Knights’ pitching staff. 1B Brett Lucas (2022) is another junior that’ll see playing time at first base for Oak Creek this spring.

Dipping down to their underclass ranks, Oak Creek will call upon multiple 2023 and 2024 graduates to step up to the table this season. Luckily for them, it’s an extremely talented crop of youngsters that boasts multiple high-end prospects in their respective classes, starting with freshman OF Cade Palkowski. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound Palkowski made waves at Oak Creek last fall as the Knights’ starting quarterback and he’s ready to do the same on the diamond this spring. His high-end athleticism paired up with a loud and loose left-handed stroke is currently set to bat leadoff for the Knights and be their everyday center fielder - a tall task for anyone, let alone someone that’s never played an inning at the varsity level. Nonetheless, Palkowski is one of the top prospects in Wisconsin’s 2024 class and he’s more than capable of handling these lofty responsibilities.

Cade Palkowski (3/7/21)

The starting shortstop spot at Oak Creek looks like it’ll be a playing time split to start between two underclassmen in Max Hennemann (2023) and C.J. Trask (2024).

Hennemann is an athletic 5-foot-10, 155-pound prospect that ran a 6.95 60-yard dash at last month’s Milwaukee Preseason I.D. and his sound, sure-handed actions at shortstop have him pegged to stick there long-term. There’s upside attached to his loose bat speed and innate line drive barrel feel attached to his left-handed stroke as well and Hennemann can be an asset for the Knights in multiple different ways. Then there’s Trask, an advanced defender in the middle of the diamond with soft hands and athletic feet that popped up at the South Milwaukee Preseason I.D. last month. He, like Hennemann, projects to stick at shortstop down the road, where his actions and arm strength can be a reliable asset on the infield’s most important position. Both are versatile defenders that could shuffle around the diamond, too.

Another underclassmen to note on this roster is C Nathan Hanel (2024). He’s someone the Oak Creek coaching staff considers to be one of their top players of the future, and we're high on Hanel's abilities as well – and he might even have what it takes to break into the roster as just a freshman.


It’s hard to bet against Oak Creek on any given day simply because of how talented this team is on the mound and they’re a well-rounded bunch on offense, too. Ultimately, the Knights’ future success may hinge on how several underclassmen at key defensive positions perform, but their 2023 and 2024 graduating classes are extremely talented, too. Oak Creek will be tested multiple times this spring in preparation for the WIAA playoffs, where they’re more than capable of making a trip to Appleton come June.

Make sure to follow @PBRWisconsin on Twitter for the most up-to-date coverage throughout the 2021 season.

Find more information on the 2021 Knights below:

Team Website
Team Schedule
Team Twitter