Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 9 Catholic Memorial


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: Catholic Memorial
Preseason Rank: 9
2017 Record: 20-5
Conference: Classic Eight
WIAA Division: 2
Head Coach: Tim Gotzler
Playoff Run: Sectionals appearance
2017 Final Rank: 10
Returning Starters: 8
Returning Pitchers: 4

KEY PLAYERS LOST

Ben Dragani, LHP (Michigan)
Jonathan Dominguez, RHP (Madison JC)
Andrew Stekiel, RHP (Wisconsin-Whitewater)

TOP PLAYERS

Name State School Class Pos Commitment
Jake Kaiser
WI Catholic Memorial 2018 C Iowa Western CC
C.J. Goetz WI Catholic Memorial 2018 OF/RHP  
Tony Alesci
WI Catholic Memorial 2018 INF  
Alex Cyskiewicz
WI Catholic Memorial 2019 INF  
Rich Byhre WI Catholic Memorial
2019 RHP  
Joe Koscinski WI Catholic Memorial 2019 INF
Luke Fox WI Catholic Memorial
2020 LHP
Chris Byhre WI Catholic Memorial 2020 RHP  
Matt Klement WI Catholic Memorial 2020 C/iNF  

X-Factor

Sophomore LHP Luke Fox was an instantaneous high-follow prospect the moment he took the mound as a freshman for the Crusaders. His mid-80s fastball -- that touched 87 mph at one of our event’s this winter -- comes out easy and he has feel for a neat changeup that pairs tremendously well. He logged significant innings as a freshman on this staff last year and is all set to lead the rotation as staff ace this spring, especially with the graduation of so many of Catholic Memorial’s best arms from a season ago.

It might be a little early to call him one, but this team is going to need an ace if it wants to capture the Classic Eight Conference title once again. He’s clearly ready, physically, to take on the responsibility that comes with that role.

Luke Fox (3.11.18)

Outlook

Typically, when a team loses three of its best arms to graduation, they’ll find themselves on the outside of a list like this the following spring. Not Catholic Memorial, though. The Waukesha-area high school is bountiful in talent on the mound and is returning a stacked cast of bats in its lineup.

Unsurprisingly, head coach Tim Gotzler is going to miss the ability to lean an a special, shutdown arm like Ben Dragani’s (Michigan). The hole he left in this rotation is the most substantial but it wasn’t the only other hole dug. Jonathan Dominguez (Madison JC) and Andrew Stekiel (Wisconsin-Whitewater) are also among the graduating class of 2017. Both of them contributed to this team’s march to sectionals as well as a 13-3 record in one of Wisconsin’s most cutthroat conferences. Their record was good enough for a share of the Classic Eight crown; they split the title with Oconomowoc and Arrowhead, but are the only Division-2 team of the three.

Coach Gotzler would be more downtrodden about his hopes of a repeat performance in the CEC if it weren’t for the blossoming arms he has waiting in the wings.

You already know Fox’s name, as mentioned in the X-Factor section, but allow me to introduce you to fellow sophomore RHP Chris Byhre. He could become the No. 3 in this rotation if big arm plays at varsity. Regardless, Byhre is a fine back-end piece for a rotation manned by Fox and the senior OF/RHP C.J. Goetz.

Goetz has commanded more interest on the football field rather than the baseball diamond -- he’s committed to play inside linebacker at the University of Wisconsin next year -- but that doesn’t mean he still isn’t one of the best players on this team. He maintained a 1.13 ERA last year and as the only senior in this staff, he’ll be the one Coach Gotzler relies on for consistency.

It would be a monumental task for any receiver to be charged with the task of harnessing this youthful staff, but Catholic Memorial is fortunate enough to have C Jake Kaiser and his leadership behind the plate will prove monumental in 2018. Given Fox’s advanced experience with varsity competition and Goetz’s seniority, Kaiser will have his hands full with the back-end of the rotation and the relative inexperience of the bullpen. He’s a quality catcher who might even be a little underrated, considering he’s forced to play in the same conference as all-state catcher Jeff Holtz at Arrowhead. He hit .361 for the Crusaders last year, and he’ll remain one of their biggest offensive weapons, too.

The one returning all-conference selection of Catholic Memorial’s is INF Alex Cyskiewicz, who hit .467 in his sophomore season in 2017. Cyskiewicz returns as one of best juniors in this conference. He’s regularly striking the ball with authority and will be the Crusaders’ impact bat of the spring, too.

Joining Cyskiewicz from the class of 2019 are INF Joe Koscinski and RHP Rich Byhre. The two will be role players for Catholic Memorial, but are the kinds who can tip the scales and help the Crusaders hoist a trophy this year.

Bottom Line

With such a loaded roster a season ago, a sectionals finish seemed somewhat disappointing for a team with much state-filled hopes. The anticipated graduation of a number of their gifted arms seemed much more daunting this time last year, though. The emergence of Fox has settled these uneasy waters, mostly. They’re a little thin on the staff, but they have a lot of bright talent that should plug in just fine.

Formerly the historic Wisconsin Little Ten, the renovated Classic Eight should prove as just as big of a challenge for the D-2 school with top-heavy D-1 favorites up top. It wouldn’t surprise many, though, to see Catholic Memorial crash first place yet again.

 

Find more information on the 2018 Crusaders below:

+ Full Schedule
+ Twitter

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

PRESEASON POWER 25 COUNTDOWN