On the Bubble: McFarland


By Andy Sroka
Staff Writer, Associate Scout

On Tuesday, April 21, the WIAA Board of Control asserted to cancel all 2020 spring competitions, baseball included. While saddened for the graduating class of 2020, the PBR Wisconsin staff will do its best to highlight what could have been this spring, in what was set to be an exciting campaign filled with intriguing storylines to know and players to follow.

We published our ‘Watchlist Squads’ post on Monday, April 20, spotlighting almost 20 need-to-know programs that fell short of official ‘Bubble’ or Power 25 status for our preseason team rankings. Today, and for the remainder of the week, we’re going to be individually detailing our ‘On the Bubble’ teams – teams that earned serious consideration for our Preseason Power 25 Rankings, but ultimately fell just short.

Our 2020 preseason coverage continues today.

Team: McFarland
Preseason Rank: On The Bubble
2019 Record: 20-10-1
Conference: Rock Valley
WIAA Class: D-2
Head Coach: John Feldner
Playoff Run: D-2 State Semifinalists
2019 Final Rank: On The Bubble
Returning Starters: 6
Returning Pitchers: 9 

OUTLOOK

Nearly all of the pieces from last year’s 20-win, sectional championship squad were back in McFarland to run it back for another shot at the state title. The Spartans made it all the way to the state semis in 2019 and ran into a buzzsaw in Union Grove and ace Luke Hansel (Madison College JC) that cut the season short.

Still, McFarland gained a ton of experience and many of the same faces that enjoyed last year’s winnings were all set to give it another run. This season cancellation is especially tough on the Spartans dugout, as many of those names were headed into their final springs as high school athletes. The arms, specifically, that helped make last year’s run possible are back in full, led by the senior trio of Jeremiah Price Johnson, J.T. Pimental, and Austin Miller. They handled the bulk of the pitching last year, effectively at that, and were all set to do it again in 2020.

The Rock Valley is consistently a grind, but the Spartans had the pieces to earn their first conference title after enjoying their program’s first-ever trip to state the year prior.

SENIOR SPOTLIGHT

The seniors here were set to be the difference-makers in the conference and were certainly equipped to give McFarland a sincere shot to bowl over perennial powers Turner and Jefferson. Hulking OF Xavier Schreiber (McHenry County JC commit) hit .426 last year and he was set to be the team’s main run-producer in 2020, after OF Cameron Schaff (Wisconsin-Whitewater) set the table. The aforementioned Miller was a second team all-conference selection after hitting .389 last year and he was the first man out of the ‘pen a season ago. Gabe Roderick and Travis Lybeck were two more seniors McFarland could lean on inside this lineup who earned some integral experience during last year’s state run.

The Spartans had a really interesting mix of talent on staff and depth in the order to be considered among those programs with a considerable chance to make it back to the Fox Cities.

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