Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 23 Stratford


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. We also declared 18 more programs official ‘On the Bubble’ teams, teams that earned sincere Power 25 consideration.

Today, we continue our countdown to No. 1, the top-ranked team on the PBR Wisconsin Preseason Power 25. We’ll be releasing a team a day in our lead-up to No. 1, and we’re onto No. 23 this evening.

Team: Stratford
Preseason Rank: No. 23
2019 Record: 22-2
Conference: Marawood South
WIAA Class: D-3
Head Coach: Marshall Lehman
Playoff Run: D-3 Champions
2019 Final Rank: On the Bubble
Returning Starters: 5
Returning Pitchers: 2 

OUTLOOK

There was an authentic chance we could see another late-season contest between the 2019 Division-3 champs Stratford and the runners-up Markesan. Both teams were set to return a healthy number of contributors who made last season’s spectacular springs possible.

For the Tigers, three of their most productive bats were coming back: senior SS/RHP Chandler Schmidt (Winona State commit), C Colten Schillinger (2021), and 1B/RHP Dawson Moen (2020). This group, however, capitalized on its best chance at hardware, as its 2019 class were key components of the title-winning season. Junior two-way standout Riley Bauman would have had expanded responsibilities on both the mound and in the lineup, making up for some of the holes left behind by last year’s graduation, but he was on the rise in the fall and we were eager to see him help lift Stratford back through the Marawood South and beyond. He collected 14 hits as a sophomore and four of them went for extra bases, more evidence that his junior breakout would motor Stratford back to state.

The junior backstop Schillinger is a prospect to know inside the state’s 2021 class, for sure. He’s a sculpted, strong backstop with raw, malleable tools. He ran a 6.88 at our Madison I.D. event in March and has above-average actions from behind the plate. Schillinger hit .364 as a sophomore but he’ll look to make the kind of contact that goes for extra bases more often, especially with the atypical speed he has at his position.

Colten Schillinger (3/15/20)

There’s additional junior and sophomore reinforcements here that would have contributed to another successful spring in Stratford, and will also provide some silver linings to look forward to in 2021. RHP Kale Weisenberger (2021) was up to 82 mph in the middle of last summer in front of our staff, and it would have bulked up a rotation that lost a key senior arm to graduation, Lance Heidmann. He’ll help deepen the lineup in some form, too.

Fellow juniors Hunter Ford and Max Vanderhoof saw minimal action as sophomores but hopefully they’ll be able to apply the experience gathered from the dugout to further enhance what has the potential to be one of D-3’s deepest batting orders.

Camden Daul had the makings of a breakthrough sophomore for Stratford, given his versatility. He’s an all-around performer who may have carved out an on-mound role in some way.

For a school with just over 300 students, the Tigers’ strength lies in their depth in both the rotation and in the order, combined with a set of leaders who’ve been there, done that. Stratford was prepared to enter the spring as one of the top D-3 contenders in the state.

SENIOR SPOTLIGHT

Reasonably, the Tigers will be competitive again in 2021, given the number of steady and reliable juniors on this roster, but this season’s squad was set to be led by Winona State-bound middle infielder, and senior, Chandler Schmidt. He was etched into both the everyday shortstop role, as well as the top arm on staff. Schmidt also was set to return as the most productive bat in the order – he hit .361 last year with 19 RBIs. On the mound, Schmidt appeared in 10 games, used mostly as the first arm in relief, and had a 1.42 ERA in 24.7 innings with 32 Ks over that stretch.

Classmate Dawson Moen is a big 6-foot-1, 260-pound bopper whose hot streak energized last year’s team through the playoffs until Schmidt took over at the state tourney. He led the team in batting average last spring (.393) and also tallied seven doubles and one homer in his junior campaign.

These two would have perfectly complemented the junior depth on hand, and it’s disappointing we won’t be able to witness this group defend their 2019 title.

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