Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 21 Verona Area


By: Isaiah Glidden & Diego Solares
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 begins today.

Team: Verona Area
Preseason Rank: 21
2021 Record: 17-6
Conference: Big Eight
WIAA Division: 1
Head Coach: Brad D’Orazio

ROSTER PREVIEW

NAME POS CLASS COMMITMENT
NJ Elias OF/INF 2022 -
Nick West
RHP
2022 Madison JC
Mason Fink
C/OF
2022 -
Charlie McChesney
RHP
2022 Wisconsin-Oshkosh
Logan Neuroth
RHP
2022 Wisconsin-Stout
Max Steiner
INF/RHP
2022 -
Garrett Hoppe
3B/RHP
2022 -
Riley Peterson
LHP
2023 -
Mason Armstrong
C/OF
2023 -
Tre Grignon
RHP/OF
2024 -
Jack DeTienne
INF/RHP
2024 -

KEY PLAYERS LOST

+ RHP Jacob Kisting (2021; Bradley)
+ INF James Rae (2021; Wisconsin-La Crosse)
+ C Colby Davis (2021; Edgewood College)

X-FACTOR

Nick West (3/14/21)


+ RHP/INF Nick West (2022; Madison JC commit): With RHP Jacob Kisting (2021; Bradley) gone, West will need to bear the brunt of the innings on the mound for the Wildcats and likely slot in as the new anchor for this pitching staff. An All-Conference selection last spring, West’s experience is valuable, as he logged 32 innings last season, winning four games and pitching to a 1.75 ERA. If West repeats that success, then the Wildcats have a stable senior they feel can give them a chance to win each time he toes the rubber. West’s abilities translate to the field too, as he’ll look to make an impact offensively when he’s not on the mound. If West can give Verona valuable two-way contributions, the Wildcats look to be a competitive opponent in the always solid Big Eight Conference. 

NEWCOMER TO WATCH


+ LHP Riley Peterson (2023): Peterson didn’t get many innings on the hill as a sophomore last season, logging only 11 total frames at the varsity level. Going into his junior year season, however, Peterson is poised to make an impact on the mound for the Wildcats. This winter was the first time we, as a staff, got to see Peterson in a showcase setting and he turned some heads during his ‘pen. He ran his fastball up 87 mph, showing a large jump in velocity since we saw him last summer in tournament action, and he added a quality breaking ball to pair. While it's unclear where he will slot into the pitching rotation, Peterson’s workload is almost certainly going to increase and how he handles that will be key to Verona’s success this season. 

OUTLOOK

While they did lose three key pieces from last year’s squad, the Wildcats do return a strong core of players that gained an extra year of varsity experience last spring and they’ll be adding a handful of talented prospects to the mix as well. 

Pitching appears to be the strength of this team, and while replacing the production they got from staff ace Jacob Kisting won’t be easy, the aforementioned West, Peterson, sophomore RHP/OF Tre Grignon (2024), and RHP Logan Neuroth (2022; Wisconsin-Stout) are all college-caliber arms that have this staff headed in the right direction. Factor in RHP Charlie McChesney (2022; Wisconsin-Oshkosh), INF/RHP Max Steiner (2022), and 3B/RHP Garrett Hoppe (2022) in relief roles and, suddenly, the Wildcats have a formidable core of arms they can turn to on a game-to-game basis.

Tre Grignon (3/14/21)


Several of these names mentioned above will play on both sides of the ball for Verona, like Hoppe, Steiner, and Grignon. C/OF Mason Fink (2022) and C/OF Mason Armstrong (2023) are two players who have varsity experience in this lineup capable of sticking behind the dish or moving around the diamond if necessary. Fink is a senior leader with quality defense at an incredibly important position that dueled as one of their top bats, finishing the year with a .300 batting average. Armstrong wasn’t too far behind his defensive counterpart, batting .288 with a track record of performing in both showcase and game settings to our staff.

Mason Armstrong (3/14/21)


A multi-sport standout for the Wildcats, OF/INF N.J. Elias (2022) may be the most pivotal offensive piece to this lineup. Elias has one of the most potent skill-sets in the state, as we’ve seen him run a 6.75 in the 60-yard dash, square baseballs up at 98+ mph, and uncork 90+ mph throws from both the infield and outfield. Even though he missed some time last season due to an injury, Elias was still an All-Conference second team selection and finished the year with a .339 batting and two home runs. Him back gives an added dynamic to this lineup and a healthy season could put an emphatic finishing touch on Elias’ prep career.

NJ Elias (3/14/21)


INF/RHP Jack DeTienne (2024) is certainly set to make an everyday impact in his first season at the varsity level. He’ll likely see consistent playing time on the infield and could get innings on the mound as well, adding an even more intriguing dynamic to this pitching staff. DeTienne was in attendance at our Madison Preseason ID a few weeks ago and emerged a winner, with our scouts having this to say about him: 

“Stands at 6-foot, 155 pounds, with room to grow. Working from the left side of the mound with a tall/fall style delivery, a long stride to home, and delivering from a clean ¾ slot, DeTienne offers a three-pitch mix with some upside. The fastball worked up to 87 mph, spinning at 2,000 rpm on average, featuring carry traits while measuring 19 inches of induced vertical break as well as natural arm-side run. The curveball spins at 2,200 rpm with effective vertical action that he showed the confidence to regularly land at the bottom and beneath the zone. DeTienne’s changeup, 78-79 mph, is a viable third pitch that runs/sinks hard, completing a high-follow mix here for a player only just growing into his physique.”

BOTTOM LINE

Even though Verona lost some important pieces from last year's team, the Wildcats bring back a solid core group of prospects from top to bottom. It won't be easy because of how consistently competitive the Big Eight Conference is, but with the depth that the Wildcats possess, both on the mound and at the plate, they have the chance to be the first team to win the Big Eight not named Sun Prairie or Jainesville Craig in over a decade. 

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

Find more information on the 2022 Wildcats below:

+ Team Website
+ Team Schedule
+ Team Twitter

PRESEASON POWER 25 COUNTDOWN