Preseason Power 25 Countdown: No. 1 Sun Prairie


By Andy Sroka
Illinois and Wisconsin Assistant Director

The Wisconsin high school baseball season kicks off on April 27, opening day for regular season action under WIAA regulations. Over the next several weeks, leading up to opening day, we’ll be publishing our team previews ahead of the 2021 spring season, touching on programs spanning all state classifications, leading into a countdown through the official PBR Wisconsin Preseason Power 25 Rankings.

Perennially, we’ve submitted a Preseason Questionnaire to high school head coaches across the entire state. Their responses have been flooding in and we’re using the detailed insight they’ve provided in our team-by-team preseason analysis. These preseason previews are also assembled with the help of Joe Waite and his comprehensive Baseball Wisconsin Yearbook, and the 2021 edition will soon be available for purchase here.

Our 2021 preseason coverage continues today.

Team: Sun Prairie
Preseason Rank: No. 1
2019 Record: 24-8
Conference: Big Eight
WIAA Division: 1
Head Coach: Rob Hamilton

TOP PLAYERS

NAME POS CLASS COMMITMENT
Josh Caron C 2021 Nebraska
Liam Moreno INF 2021 Missouri State
Durlin Radlund INF 2021 -
Carson Shepard INF 2021 Ohio
Jason Starr RHP 2021 -
Brady Stevens LHP 2021 Upper Iowa
Carter Wambach INF/RHP 2021 McHenry County JC
Jenkin Alexander INF 2022 -
Davis Hamilton INF 2022 -
Addison Ostrenga OF 2022 Iowa
Ethan Petsch RHP 2022 -
Aidan Ripp C/1B 2022 Wisconsin-Eau Claire
Jackson Hunley INF/RHP 2023 -

OUTLOOK

There was probably little surprise at the reveal of Sun Prairie at the top of the Preseason Power 25 Rankings. The powerhouse program is consistently near the top of the preseason ranks as they’re often among the most talented rosters in the state, aided by one of the most well-respected current head coaches in Wisconsin: Rob Hamilton.

That, combined with the fact that the Cardinals’ 2021 class will go down as one of the most memorable ones, has Sun Prairie setting their sights on a return to the state championship game. They got as close as you can get to winning it all in 2019, and so many of the seniors on this projected starting roster were a part of that experience.

Seniors C Josh Caron, 3B Liam Moreno, and SS Carson Shepard each started that championship game, and all three were critical pieces of that Sun Prairie season. It stings to know that they missed out on another chance to contend as a unit in 2020, but this 2021 class can go out on the highest of notes – and there’s no better choice to win it all.

Josh Caron (8/4/20)

Caron’s a Nebraska commit and a highly athletic backstop, and he generates loud right-handed contact from a natural lofted plane that should promote power potential both now and in the future. Moreno’s arguably the best pound-for-pound hitter in the state. A natural right-handed hitter with authentic barrel control and the strength to muscle barrels over any wall to any field. He also moves especially well for his compact physique, having run a 6.49 at a PBR Iowa event earlier this winter.

Liam Moreno (2/24/21)

Shepard is the team’s spark plug, a top-of-the-order profile capable of jumpstarting the offense at any moment. He has exceptional bat-to-ball skills and he’s added usable strength to his stature that’s allowed him to strike the ball with greater authority, enhancing his offensive skill set. Additionally, Shepard is among the top defenders in the state, and a true shortstop.

Carson Shepard (3/15/20)

Fellow seniors RHP Jason Starr, LHP Brady Stevens, INF Durlin Radlund, and INF/RHP Carter Wambach are critically important players, as they’ll be tasked with the majority of the team’s innings. Starr’s an athletic righty with a power arm, and it’s been into the upper-80s for us in the past. Stevens is a finesse lefty with athleticism. Wambach is a two-way talent with a competitive left-handed bat who’s also a reliable infielder and strike-thrower from the mound.

Naturally, Sun Prairie is rostering several of the state’s best players in other classes, including Coach Hamilton’s son Davis, who’s a throwback-type player. Hamilton swings a rhythmic, smooth, and easy left-handed bat that is totally geared to find the barrel with ease. He can become one of the squad’s most productive hitters, no doubt, while also providing sure hands wherever he’s needed on the infield.

Davis Hamilton (3/14/21)

OF Addison Ostrenga had a hugely successful 2020, in which he landed a commitment to Iowa shortly after participating in the PBR Future Games, where he was teammates with Hamilton. Ostrenga’s a highly athletic 6-foot-4, 220-pound prospect who generates premium bat and hand speed from the right side, while operating as a sub-7.00 runner who can chase anything down in the outfield. His bat has the Cardinals lineup looking like the state’s most well-rounded and dangerous.

There are several more juniors who could earn playing time here and there, like C/1B Aidan Ripp and INF Jenkin Alexander, though RHP Ethan Petsch appears likely to take on a large role inside the starting rotation. Petsch is a 6-foot-3 righty who delivers the ball with some funk, and he was up to 81 mph recently with an above-average breaking ball.

Sun Prairie doesn’t have a ton of pitching depth, so I guess you could call it something of a weakness, but sophomore RHP/INF Jackson Hunley could help in that department. He’s a very athletic, wiry 6-foot-4 prospect, underscored by his 6.92 time in the 60. His upside right-handed bat looked simpler and athletic at our Madison showcase, and Hunley also brings with him low-80s stuff on the mound, as well as the makings of a swing-and-miss breaking ball. His emergence could really patch up the back half of the lineup and rotation, should he break out.

BOTTOM LINE

Sun Prairie owns the best chance to win the D1 title this season, which would be a storybook ending for this 2021 class. It’s safe to call this lineup the state’s most threatening to opposing pitchers, filled with next-level hitters who’ve both been here before and can carry the Cardinals back to the state title game – only this time they intend to finish the job.

Make sure to follow @PBRWisconsin on Twitter for the most up-to-date coverage throughout the 2021 season.

Find more information on the 2021 Cardinals below:

+ Team Website
+ Team Schedule

PRESEASON POWER 25 COUNTDOWN