The Beaver Dam prep baseball team had an up and down, roller coaster type of season in the Badger North Conference.
The Golden Beavers began the 2021 spring season with a pair of easy non-conference wins during a May 1 doubleheader against Appleton East, but soon had their season stall due to COVID-19-related issues.
The season didn’t start back up until May 18, when the Golden Beavers defeated Portage, 6-0, in Badger North play. The season was already condensed because of COVID-19, but with the two-week layoff, coach Nate Wilke said the guys suffered a bit as they were playing three or four games a week.
Even with all the hassle, the Golden Beavers persevered and the Badger North coaches took notice. They voted senior Wes Biel as a first-teamer; junior Logan Thomas and sophomore Daelen Johnson as second-teamers; and senior Griff Wicklund and junior Alex Soto as honorable mentions.
“All of them had great years, obviously,” Wilke said. “They were recognized by the conference as having big years.”
Biel was highly touted by his coach after putting together a special season. He batted .364 with 11 RBIs and, because of his raw power, he had more extra-base hits (one homer, one triple, eight doubles) than he did singles (six).
“He’s just pure power and a great hitter,” Wilke said.
Furthermore, when he was behind the plate as a catcher, Biel threw out eight runners trying to steal bases.
“To me, I think he was the best catcher in our league and there were some very good catchers in our league,” Wilke said. “A lot of teams didn’t try to steal against us because they would see him throw down to second. He blocked the ball great and he’s got a cannon back there for an arm. His pop time was super fast.”
The Golden Beavers needed that confidence behind the plate to ease the pitchers’ minds.
For instance, Thomas (1-1) and Johnson (3-1) were both second-team pitchers in the Badger North after combining for a 4-2 record in conference action.
Thomas had a 3.17 ERA, while Johnson was at 3.8 in a conference season in which he had 20 strikeouts in 22 innings.
“He had great velocity,” Wilke said of Johnson. “He plays a lot of good talent during the summer. He plays with GRB Academy and for a sophomore to come in and be your ace, we weren’t really sure. You just never know with a sophomore how that’s going to do at the varsity level. He was the real deal and had a great sophomore season for us.”
Both were incredible batters at the plate for the Golden Beavers, too.
Thomas led the team with a .400 batting average, tallying eight RBIs, a home run, a triple and a double. Wilke said his range in the outfield also made him the perfect centerfielder, as he conference play with 18 putouts.
“He was great to have in centerfield,” Wilke said. “Any ball that was hit out there, he was going to catch and run down. He had a couple plays where he threw guys out.”
Johnson was also a versatile threat, finishing league action with a .381 batting average, four triples and three doubles. Of his 16 hits against Badger North foes, seven went for extra bases and six RBIs.
“He’s got a very bright future for us — on the mound and in the field,” Wilke said.
Biel also caught for Soto, who finished with a 2-1 record and one save. But it was his bat that most impressed the Badger North coaches. Even though he batted leadoff, Soto finished with 10 RBIs, which stunned Wilke.
“That’s impressive to hit 10 RBIs and hitting in that No. 1, leadoff spot,” Wilke said. “That’s usually not your big RBI guy. He wound up having a lot of RBIs for us.”
Soto also impressed his coach with his strikeout-to-walk ratio, striking out just six times while drawing eight walks.
“It’s great, especially as your leadoff hitter,” Wilke said. “You don’t want the guy striking out a lot. He definitely did not. He was a great leadoff hitter for us.”
Wilke was pleased with Wicklund’s final season. The senior batted .326 with nine RBIs and 12 runs scored. He also had a great strikeout-to-walk ratio, finishing with six strikeouts and 10 walks.
“If you get more walks than you get strikeouts, that’s pretty impressive,” Wilke said. “That’s the goal as a hitter. He always makes contact and if you needed him to hit the ball on the ground to get a guy over to second base, he could have. If you needed a sacrifice fly ball, he would do it. He had very good bat control. He’s a very smart baseball player.”
ALL-BADGER NORTH BASEBALL
Steiner, sr., Baraboo; Biel, sr., Beaver Dam; Hausser, sr., DeForest; Kirchberg, sr., DeForest; Kaufmann, sr., DeForest; Bogue, sr., Mount Horeb; Kittoe, sr., Mount Horeb; Schaller, jr., Mount Horeb; Wais, sr., Reedsburg; Price, jr., Sauk Prairie; Acker, sr., Waunakee; King, jr., Waunakee.
Player of the year — Kirchberg, sr., DeForest.
Pitcher of the year — Kaufmann, sr., DeForest.
Coach of the year — H. Olson, DeForest.
Mueller, sr., Baraboo; Thomas, jr., Beaver Dam; Johnson, so., Beaver Dam; Buschmann, jr., DeForest; Engeseth, jr., DeForest; Steinhoff, sr., Mount Horeb; Ely, sr., Reedsburg; Uselman, sr., Sauk Prairie; Larsen, jr., Sauk Prairie; Shepski, so., Waunakee; Rickett, jr., Waunakee; James, jr., Waunakee.
Baraboo — Gaffney, sr.,; Teasdale, sr. Beaver Dam — Wicklund, sr.,; Soto, jr. DeForest — Hawk, jr.; C. Olson, sr.; Jansen, jr.; Hicks, so. Mount Horeb — Kellesvig, sr.; Woller, jr.; Ackerman, sr.; Tranel, so. Portage — Kopfhamer, jr.; Roberts, jr.; Owen, jr.; Bruette, jr. Reedsburg — Curtin, sr.; Alonso, so.; Molitor, jr. Sauk Prairie — Breunig, sr.; Baier, jr.; Frey, jr.; Alisch, jr.; Hutter, jr. Waunakee — Shepski, jr.; Kuhn, jr.; Lory, jr.
Follow Mark McMullen on Twitter @mmcmull2 or contact him at 920-356-6754.