Top-10 Stories of 2021: Owen Washburn is named the next PBR Wisconsin POTY

By Taylor Castro
Wisconsin Staff

At the end of each calendar year, our staff reflects on the most interesting stories of the past year. Through the end of the month, we’ll be counting down some of the most impactful headlines that affected Wisconsin’s baseball community, ending with our No. 1 story of 2021 revealed on New Year’s Day.

As we do at the conclusion of each WIAA season, our staff collaborates to nominate one name for the PBR Wisconsin Player of the Year award. This award is delivered to the player in which we believe, internally, put together the most outstanding season across the spring. 

In the WIAA’s return this past season, no player dominated more than RHP/INF Owen Washburn, earning this year’s award rather easily. A 2021 graduate, the Texas Tech commit finished his high school career as the fourth ranked player on our state board, slotting into the top-500 nationally for his class as well. 

Washburn saw success in all aspects of his game, helping lead Webster to yet another impressive season. He finished the regular season with a .741 batting average, 12 doubles, seven home runs, 61 RBIs and 18 stolen bases. Washburn’s numbers on the mound were even more impressive, finishing the year with zero earned runs across 34 innings pitched and 84 strikeouts to just one walk. 

Baseball has always been a family affair for Washburn. His older brother Jack, who is now at Ole Miss after transferring from Oregon State, earned our Player of the Year award back in 2018. 

“I know not only my parents, but our entire town, is very proud of what our baseball team has done. It’s pretty special that not only two kids from the same school have won Player of the Year, but two siblings that have done it. That’s really special to me,” Washburn said.

In 2019, during Jack’s senior year, Webster won the Wisconsin Division 4 state title after going 30-0 on the season. The Tigers had won 58 games in a row before losing in this year’s sectional final. 

The program is coached by Washburn’s dad, Jarrod, a former MLB pitcher and World Series Champion. It was a unique experience for both siblings to balance their relationship at home and on the field.

“It was difficult early in my coaching days trying to differentiate between the two with both of my boys, but as I got into it further and started coaching them more, it evolved into just a coach-player relationship while our high school season was going on and I was coaching them,” Jarrod said. “Then travel ball seasons and college seasons I can just be dad. It’s a totally different dynamic between the two because there are times as a dad where you want to pull your hair out, but you know that as a coach that doesn't help the team. You kind of have to learn to approach it differently.”

As soon as he was able to, Owen would have a ball or a bat in his hand. Growing up around the sport and being at Major League ballparks from a young age made his love for baseball come naturally. Being able to meet players that most people only see on TV was an experience that Owen doesn’t take for granted.

Owen gives credit to both his brother and his dad for turning him into the player he is today.

“It’s great knowing that your head coach is also your dad. Being able to work with him not only at the field but also at home, it helps with every aspect of the game,” Owen said. 

Like both Owen and Jack, Jarrod is a graduate of Webster High School. After retiring with the Detroit Tigers in 2009, Jarrod began coaching youth fall teams and worked his way up to the high school level. 

Jarrod’s leadership combined with the success both Owen and Jack had for Webster’s baseball program, together, the Washburn family has gotten the whole town excited about baseball.

“My wife and I both grew up here and went to school here growing up and always enjoyed everything with being a part of a small town,” Jarrod said. “Then, coming back and being able to get the coaching job and turn Webster basically into a little bit of a powerhouse at the moment. We had a heck of a good run the last five or six years, so it's been fun getting the baseball culture turned around. Now, you drive around town and pretty much every night in the summer all the ball fields are full of kids. It’s pretty cool to see.”