The Sauk Prairie High School baseball team is entering the season with two seniors and two players with varsity experience. Fortunately for the Eagles, the versatile veterans will be in the center of everything.
Senior Tyler Uselman will play middle infield, while Kyle Breunig is slotted in at catcher. The rest of the 15-player roster is made up of juniors that will look to adapt quickly to the varsity level after taking a year off of high school baseball due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We only have two players coming back with varsity experience,” Sauk Prairie coach Darin Pape said. “However, we will have a young, athletic team that has a lot of previous baseball experience. We are hopeful to be a very competitive team and gain confidence throughout the season.”
It’ll start with the seniors, who each saw regular playing time when Sauk Prairie went 12-14, including 4-10 in the Badger North Conference, in 2019.
Uselman played all over the infield as a sophomore, batting .284 (21-for-74) with 13 RBIs and 11 runs scored.
“Tyler Uselman is a pitcher and utility infielder that will play several different defensive positions,” Pape said of the versatile three-sport athlete. “We are also hopeful that he continues to be an offensive leader on our team. He hits with power and is an excellent baserunner.”
Breunig hit .178 (8-for-45) with five RBIs and 11 runs while serving a utility role in 2019. He also recorded a 4.9 ERA in 5 2/3 innings on the mound.
“He has really worked hard to refine his skills as a catcher,” Pape said. “Kyle is an offensive threat and an athletic and speedy baserunner. He will also be counted on to pitch.”
Uselman and Breunig will help form a pitching staff that will look completely different for a team that’s without all five of its all-Badger North players from two years ago — Adam Juran, Bryant Schaaf, Ben German, Dylan Andrews and Jay Liedtke.
Therefore, there will be plenty of repetitions available for a large junior class that will be counted on heavily. The 13-player class includes infielders Eddie Breunig, Quinn Baier, Noah Frey, Kurtis Price, Brenden Larsen, Bryce Haag and Phillip Enerson, as well as outfielders Adam Hutter, Spencer Alisch, Gavin Sass, Wyatt Urban, Lucas Been and Colton Uselman.
The group will look to come together to climb up the Badger North standings after finishing seventh in 2019. Pape sees DeForest, Waunakee and Mount Horeb as the teams to beat this time around, although there’s unprecedented uncertainty after a full season off.
The Eagles will see their starting point Tuesday when they host Portage in a season-opening game at Chuck Hall Memorial Field in Sauk City. The Badger North matchup will kick off a 19-game regular season that will end with a June 5 home game against Platteville. WIAA Division 2 regional games are scheduled to start June 10.
Sauk Prairie’s last trip to the postseason lasted two rounds. The fourth-seeded Eagles picked up a 7-1 win over No. 5 Dodgeville before suffering a 4-1 regional-semifinal loss to No. 1 Madison Edgewood, which went on to reach the sectional finals, on May 28, 2019.
There will be growing pains for every team competing this spring, but for Sauk Prairie to win a playoff game again, Pape hopes the Eagles “gain that experience to be able to peak at the right time.”