Prep Baseball Report

Top 10 Stories of 2023: No. 8 Davenport Guides Madison JC to a Fifth Straight World Series Berth

By: Josh Fields & Andy Sroka
Wisconsin Staff

At the end of each calendar year, the PBR Wisconsin staff reflects back on the 10 most intriguing headlines that surrounded the baseball scene in the Badger State. Through the end of the month, we will break down the most impactful storylines from an eventful 2023 campaign, ending with our No. 1 story revealed Dec. 30.

Madison College has been a powerhouse in Region 4 since Mike Davenport took over in 2005, amassing over 600 wins in his tenure and taking his team to the NJCAA Division II World Series the past five seasons – and in 11 out of the last 14.

The program under Davenport has mostly consisted of former Wisconsin prep standouts as well. In 2022 when the WolfPack finished as runners-up at the World Series, the roster had 28 former Wisconsin prep players rostered, and obviously many of them played key roles in the team’s overall success. The 2023 team featured 30 former Wisconsin prep players and saw them go 44-12 on the year, and they carried a 12-game win streak headed into their latest World Series berth.

Davenport has an extensive coaching resume, one that includes a NJCAA National Championship that he earned while coaching at his alma mater, Kishwaukee, in 1999, which is the same year he was named the Division II National Coach of the Year. Among his numerous accomplishments, he reached 1,000 career junior college wins in 2022, becoming just the 43rd coach to reach that milestone.

Going into 2024, the Wolfpack will once again consist of former Wisconsin prep standouts as our staff was able to get an in-depth look at their roster across multiple outings this fall, specifically at the annual Puma Classic near Indianapolis, and later at the Region 4 Showcase back in Wisconsin. More recently, three Madison College players were ranked inside the top-150 by Prep Baseball JUCO Wire: LHP Michael Carpenter (Arrowhead, 2022); RHP Eli Hoyt (Waukesha South, 2021), and RHP Gradin Taschner (Neenah, 2022).

Carpenter, who is an East Carolina recruit, came in at No. 53 overall after the pair of impressive outings he authored for us this fall:

From the Puma Classic (9/16/23): “... the 6-foot-1, 185-pound Carpenter was no different. The uncommitted sophomore pitched with moderate effort from a high ¾ release point. He filled the zone with a fastball that topped at 92, mostly sitting 89-91. His offspeed included a tight slurve, 75-77 mph, that features effective depth, swing-and-miss action, and he located it well. His changeup is more of a work-in-progress, but he did induce at least one swing/miss with the offering. Last spring as a freshman, Carpenter logged 62 innings and allowed 66 hits with 16 walks and 59 strikeouts.”

From the Region IV Showcase (9/21/23): “ a polished left-handed-pitching prospect with upside. In back-to-back outings Carpenter has looked like one of the top pitchers in the region, utilizing a three pitch mix that all generate swings and misses. His fastball sat at 88-90 mph in this look, locating it in the zone and earning some whiffs. Carpenter also showed advanced feel for an upper-70s curveball that flashed sharp break and a heavy low-80s changeup.

The right-hander Hoyt came in No. 125 and while he has missed some time due to injury, when healthy, he has been dominant on the mound. During the 2022 season Hoyt tossed 45 innings with seven wins while striking out 53 batters, finishing with a 1.40 ERA.

At No. 133 overall is the physical righty Taschner, a recent Wichita State recruit, who flaunted substantial mid-90s velocity and a sweeping breaking ball that’s developing nicely.

From the PUMA Classic 9/16/23 ... the son of former Major League left-handed pitcher, Jack. A red-shirt at Illinois State last year, the right-handed Taschner unleashed fastballs from a high 3 ⁄4 slot to the plate up to 95 mph, while sitting more in the 92-93 range on a vertical-type heater. With a fluid delivery and on-line direction he also showed feel for a hard-breaking, low-80s sweeping slider that spun in the 2,400 rpm range. Taschner has all the physical attributes, as well as the bloodlines, to develop into a coveted prospect in time.

From the Region IV Showcase 9/21/23 “ a power right-handed-pitching prospect that was responsible for the loudest outing of the day. The imposing right-hander sat 91-93 mph throughout his outing overpowering hitters with his fastball while mixing in a sharp slider.

The WolfPack will open their season on March 7 in Arizona as they work to make it back to the World Series for the sixth straight year in late May.