Prep Baseball Report

Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 9 Oak Creek

By: Isaiah Glidden
PBR Wisconsin Staff

The Wisconsin high school baseball season kicks off on March 29, opening day for regular season action under WIAA regulations. Over the next week, leading up to opening day, we’ll be publishing our team previews ahead of the 2022 spring season, touching on programs spanning all state classifications, counting down 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.

Our 2022 preseason coverage continues today.

Team: Oak Creek
Preseason Rank:
2021 Record: 20-8
Conference: Southeast
WIAA Division: 1
Head Coach: Scott Holler


Ryan Santi 1B/C 2022 Madison JC
Luke Klekamp RHP/UTIL
2022 St. John River State College
Max Hennemann UTIL 2023 Northern Kentucky
Owen Sullivan OF/RHP 2023 Western Illinois
Michael Merline RHP
2023 -
Evan Calderon INF 2023 -
Cade Palkowski OF/LHP 2024 -
Payten Jibben RHP/OF 2024 -
CJ Trask INF/RHP 2024 -
Nathan Hanel C 2024 -


+ RHP Tyler Peck (2021; Ohio)

+ RHP/OF Tyler Gall (2021; Bryant and Stratton-Wisconsin)

+ RHP/OF Isaac Engelbrecht (2021; Bryant and Stratton-Wisconsin)


+ RHP/OF Payten Jibben (2024): Jibben is poised to make an impact on this Knights squad, especially on the mound. With only one pitcher on this team with significant varsity innings, Oak Creek will look to some young arms, Jibben being one of them. A little less than a month ago, Jibben came away a major winner from our South Milwaukee Preseason ID. During his ‘pen Jibben impressed our staff with his three-pitch mix while topping at 87 mph, showing feel for all of his pitches. Although Jibben doesn’t have varsity pitching experience, he did have a successful season at the plate last year for the Knights hitting at a .314 clip, and will look to build from that success this upcoming season. We have seen Jibben’s pitching prowess first-hand and if he can carry that into the WIAA season, he will be a key contributor to this young pitching staff. 


+ OF/LHP Cade Palkowski (2024): After having a successful season as just a freshman where he was a first-team all-conference selection, Palkowski is set to be an important piece to this Oak Creek team. We got an up-to-date look at Palkowski at the South Milwaukee Preseason ID less than a month ago. Showing his athleticism early on as ran a 6.86 in the 60-yard dash then followed it up with an impressive round of BP and a quality ‘pen. Palkowski will certainly be expected to throw in some capacity for this Oak Creek squad, and if he can repeat his success at the plate, Palkowski will be a major factor for the Knights as a whole. 


Last season, the Knights gained some valuable varsity experience with a relatively young roster. Under newly inducted WBCA Hall of Fame coach Scott Holler, the Knights stayed competitive in the SEC. This year they bring back eight starters from last year and now with a full season under their belts, this still young Oak Creek squad seems poised to be a top team in the Southeast Conference, like many other years. 

Senior RHP Luke Klekamp (St. John River State College), a first-team all-conference member last year, is set to anchor this Oak Creek rotation. As the only person on the roster with significant varsity pitching experience, he will be looked to by this young pitching staff throughout the season to lead them. Even though the rest of the staff is young, they do possess a ton of talent. Besides the aforementioned Jibben and Palkowski, INF/RHP CJ Trask (2024) is another arm Holler will look to as the season progresses. Both RHP Michael Merline (2023) and OF/RHP Owen Sullivan (2022; Western Illinois) are penciled in to throw innings as well. Yes, this staff is young with very little varsity experience, but with Holler at the helm and with the talent they have, they will be fine. 

Offensively, the Knights bring back a bulk of their lineup from last year, returning roughly 87 percent of their at-bats from last year led by senior INF Ryan Santi (Madison JC). Santi was a first-team all-conference selection last year while leading the Knights in hits, doubles, RBIs, and OBP. Going into his senior season, he is looking to do it again. Recent Future Game participant, UTIL Max Hennemann (2023, Northern Kentucky) will most likely be an everyday starter for this Oak Creek squad after recording a batting average of .375 last season. Currently, Hennemann is ranked inside the top-20 in our state rankings and his impact on the game will certainly be felt from the lead-off spot immediately. Although Sullivan will pitch for the Knights, he is expected to play the outfield, his main position, as well. Oak Creek will also bring back a talented group of sophomores who gained valuable varsity experience last year in Jibben, Palkowski, Trask, and C Nathan Hanel (2024).


Oak Creek has always been a competitive team not only in the SEC but in the badger state as well and this year is no different. With experience littered throughout the lineup and some young arms ready to take over large roles, the Knights are poised to make yet another run as playoffs come around. Although it might take some trial and error for Holler to lock in his pitching rotation, it is certainly something that someone with his pedigree can overcome 

Make sure to follow @PBRWisconsin on Twitter for the most up-to-date coverage throughout the 2022 season.

Find more information on the 2022 Knights below:

+ Team Website
+ Team Schedule
+ Team Twitter