Prep Baseball Report

WIAA State Finals: Division 1 Preview

By: Maddox Durst
Staff Writer

Throughout the Badger State, Sectionals played out on Tuesday, June 4 to determine what 20 teams will be making an appearance at the State Tournament in Appleton at Fox Cities Stadium. The Prep Baseball Wisconsin staff will continue its comprehensive coverage by breaking down what to expect from all four divisions at the final stage of the WIAA season in preview form.

The WIAA State Tournament is set to take place between June 10-13, concluding on Thursday by crowning four state champions to wrap up an eventful 2024 season.

Maddox Durst and David Go broke down the preview for the upcoming State Tournament in episode nine of the WIAA Roundup—featuring highlights from Sectional Tuesday, too. Check out their latest episode, below.

The Division 1 field is stacked with talent, as eight teams will kick off the action on Monday with the Quarterfinals. The Semifinals take place on Wednesday afternoon, and the championship game will conclude the action at 6:00 p.m. on Thursday. The group of teams is made up of No. 6 Arrowhead, No. 1 De Pere, No. 17 Hudson, Menasha, No. 18 Nicolet, No. 2 Oak Creek, No. 3 Sun Prairie East and No. 11 Westosha Central.


The Warhawks came out on top in what proved to be one of the deepest Sectionals in Division 1—using their strong pitching staff to elevate themselves above the competition. They earned the No. 4 seed in this pool of teams, as they will take on Westosha Central in the first game of action in Appleton—taking place at 9:30 a.m.

RHP Nolan Buss (2024; Kansas State commit) has taken on the ace role for this program in 2024, as the senior enters Appleton with an 8-0 record and a 1.07 ERA. Buss has tallied 73 strikeouts in 52.1 innings pitched, only allowing eight earned runs in that time period. The right-hander was electric on the mound against Sussex Hamilton in his most recent outing, punching out 15 batters in a complete game shutout.

Nolan Buss [4/23/24]

Right by his side, RHP Peter Kussow (2025; Louisville) has been equally as dominant on a pitching staff that boasts a 1.70 ERA. Kussow has been one of their top performers, fresh off of a complete game victory over Muskego in the Sectional Final. The right-hander struck out 10 and features a 5-1 record on the mound, showcasing a low 0.33 ERA.

Peter Kussow [6/4/24]

The pitching staff is rounded out by the likes of LHP Tanner Buhlmann (2026), RHP Brayden Ramus (2024; Wisconsin-River Falls) and RHP Jack Roventini (2025), who each may see time on the mound if the Warhawks are to play three games up in Appleton, or in a relief role in the back half of a first round matchup.

Offensively, OF Issei Takahashi (2024; Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology) has been their igniter from the leadoff spot. The outfielder is hitting .341 with a team-high 23 runs scored, and will be looked to as a producer to jumpstart the Arrowhead offense. The Warhawks have found a spark in OF Cameron Carter (2026), too. Carter leads the team in BA at a .366 clip, finishing with 30 hits on the season. Carter drove in the lone RBI of the game against Muskego in their Sectional Final—clutching up from the middle of the order all season long.

Cameron Carter [6/4/24]

From there, OF Yamato Takahashi (2025), INF Jacob Lorbecki (2024; Wisconsin Lutheran College) and INF Wes Lindee (2024; Concordia (WI)) look to fill in important roles both offensively and defensively for Arrowhead, as the lineup from top to bottom has been able to manufacture runs in spots where it has counted so far during this playoff run.

DE PERE (24-3)

The Redbirds have continued to stack on wins and impress throughout the entire WIAA field, as they enter Appleton as not only the No. 1 seed in the tournament, but the No. 1 ranked team in the state. De Pere is set to face Menasha in game two of the day, which plans to get underway right after the first game concludes.

The two-way play of multiple individuals has powered the Redbirds to this point of the season, as it has been a team effort against one of the toughest schedules in the state in their 2024 campaign. RHP/OF Easton Arendt (2024; Winona State University) has been the star for this group, recently rushing his FB up to 91 mph in his Sectional matchup against Bay Port. Before Sectionals, the right-hander boasted a 4-1 record with 47 strikeouts—finishing with a 0.74 ERA in the process. He’s added to those numbers with two more wins in the playoffs under his belt, as he tossed a complete game shutout against West De Pere, and secured the win against the Pirates in the Sectional Final. At the plate, Arendt launched a home run in that final game, strengthening a prior .422 BA from the three-spot in the order.

Easton Arendt [6/4/24]

1B/RHP Landon Raygo (2024; Bryant & Stratton (WI)) is right behind him in production—ending his regular season hitting .422 as well. The senior provided 10 extra base hits during the regular season, and increased that number with a double and two RBIs in their 9-3 Sectional Final victory. On the mound, Raygo has tallied five wins with a 0.81 ERA, and will be looked to out of the ‘pen or in a spot-start in Appleton.

RHP/INF Axel Donaldson (2024; Madison JC) was another name that impressed throughout the entirety of 2024—emerging as one of De Pere’s go-to arms during this playoff stretch. Donaldson shut down Appleton East for the first five innings of their Sectional run, striking out seven batters while only allowing two hits in the process. Offensively, Donaldson has taken over the leadoff spot and thrived—batting .407 by the conclusion of the regular season.

Axel Donaldson [6/4/24]

As for the rest of the offense, 1B Milo Upton (2024; Concordia (WI)) has been one of the multiple power threats in the batting order. The senior is fresh off of blasting his team-high fourth home run of the year, which proved to be vital in their win over the Patriots, as Upton finished with two hits and four RBIs. RHP/INF Lucas Koskey (2025) and INF Javin Gauthier (2024; Valparaiso) continue to find their rhythm on offense, despite having lower numbers, statistically.

De Pere survived as conference champions of the Fox River Classic, along with taking down strong opponents to get to this spot, as they shape up to be the favorites heading into a week of action in Appleton.

HUDSON (22-7)

The Raiders are making their first appearance at the State Tournament since 1974, 50 years ago today. It’s been a long journey for this unit, but they present the firepower to continue this run and make some noise at Fox Cities Stadium. Hudson will battle against the No. 3 seed in Sun Prairie East to kick off the afternoon’s action, set to start at 2:30 p.m. in Appleton.

On Tuesday, the Raiders were on the brink of elimination before freshman star OF/C Logan Hagman (2027) clutched up and drove in a pair on a single to give his team the lead over their rival in River Falls. From there, Hudson never lost their momentum in Marshfield and went on to win both games. Hagman has been one of the top newcomers in the WIAA this season, as his production has moved him from the leadoff spot into the middle of the order. Before their playoff stretch, Hagman entered with a .388 BA, hitting four home runs with 30 runs scored in the process.

Logan Hagman [5/11/24]

C Hunter Carlson (2024; Wichita State) and INF Landon Zeuli (2024; Winona State University) are a pair of senior captains who continue to elevate their level of play as the competition gets better for this Hudson unit. Carlson hit a team-high .392 with 30 RBIs in the regular season. Zeuli tied Hagman in hits with 33, all while manning the shortstop position on a daily basis. Zeuli provided a hit and two big RBIs in their Sectional Final victory over No. 7 Stevens Point Area, as he was credited with driving in two of their three runs.

INF/RHP Sam Abrahamson (2026) has had a strong sophomore campaign on the offensive end for the Raiders—adding to the depth of this program. Abrahamson produced a .333 BA with six extra base hits and 17 RBIs on the year—accumulating 29 hits in his second season of varsity baseball. He also shut down River Falls on the mound in the last four innings of their thrilling win, striking out four while walking zero to allow his team to make a comeback.

Sam Abrahamson [4/19/24]

As for the pitching staff, LHP Bradyn Bezanson (2024; Maryville University) ran into one of his first rough starts of the season against the Wildcats. Despite this, the left-hander bounced back by closing the final three innings against the Panthers to punch Hudson’s ticket to the State Tournament. Bezanson entered the playoffs with a 5-1 record and 1.18 ERA, racking up 62 strikeouts in 41.2 innings pitched. He has also had a positive presence in their batting order at the DH position when he’s not throwing. LHP Aaron Schwechler (2024; Wisconsin-La Crosse) has been more of the same for the Raiders, as he produced a flawless 5-0 record in the regular season in 34.1 innings of action.

Other pieces to this lineup and pitching staff have stepped up to get Hudson to this point, as the champions of the Big Rivers Conference will be a tough out in this pool of eight teams.

MENASHA (19-6)

The Bluejays are the only team in the field of eight not ranked in the Power 25 this season, yet they have put together another solid resume to garner that respect as a competitive program in the Division 1 realm. Menasha is the No. 8 seed, and will take on the aforementioned De Pere Redbirds in Appleton.

This group pulled off three upsets on their road to the State Tournament, first taking down West Bend East on the road in a 3-1 victory. They then headed to Oshkosh North to face ranked opponents in No. 4 Hartford Union and No. 10 Manitowoc Lincoln. The Bluejays came out on top in both matchups, and have used their experience and senior leadership to get to this point.

1B/LHP Quinn Ludvigsen (2024; Minnesota State - Mankato) has been a star in a two-way role for Menasha all season, which has been emphasized in the playoffs. Ludvigsen has twirled to complete games for the Bluejays, with his most recent outing coming against the Orioles in a 5-1 win. The left-hander went the distance—tallying five strikeouts while limiting Hartford to just four hits. Additionally, Ludvigsen helped himself with a pair of doubles and two RBIs against one of the stronger pitching staffs in the state.

RHP/INF Ian Dohms (2024; Coastal Alabama-South CC) has played a similar role for Menasha from a two-way perspective. Dohms has also accumulated two wins in this playoff stretch, as he tossed a complete game in a narrow 2-1 victory over the Ships to punch the Bluejays’ ticket to Appleton. Dohms has been solid in the playoffs, entering this stretch with a 1.62 ERA in 34.2 innings of work. He has also clutched up at the plate, reaching base twice in their most recent game. He provided what proved to be the game-winning hit against the Suns in their Regional Final matchup, as he will be a threat to watch out for with runners on base.

Ian Dohms [5/30/24]

LHP Jacob Coopman (2026) and RHP Ryan Johnson (2024) may both play a vital role in the bullpen during this run in Appleton, despite neither seeing significant time on the mound in the playoffs. Each arm was a strong piece in their regular season campaign, as they won the Bay Conference.

Jacob Coopman [2/24/24]

In the leadoff spot, INF Ty Carlson (2024; Madison JC) has been an on-base machine in this recent run, finishing with two hits in Sectionals. He is fresh off of a 3-for-4 game versus West Bend East—emerging as one of the top leadoff hitters in this field. He is joined by C Bryce Duszak (2024; Tallahassee CC), their cleanup batter and one of their stronger performers throughout the season. Duszak hit .384 with 28 hits and 26 RBIs, leading the team in both categories in his senior season.

UTL Jacob Osentoski (2025), INF Trevor DeBriyn (2025), OF Owen Aykens (2025) and DH Nathan Kurland (2024) round out a lineup that has found a way to manufacture efficiently down the stretch.

NICOLET (23-6)

The Knights have enjoyed one of the stronger seasons in the Division 1 field this year, as they are the lone team from the North Shore Conference to head north toward Appleton this week. Nicolet will try to upset the No. 2 seed in Oak Creek in the final matchup on Monday.

Not too many individuals were as key as RHP/INF Nolan Sandee (2024; Northern Illinois) in Sectionals on Tuesday, as the two-way star provided quality performances in two separate games for Nicolet. Sandee first closed their matchup against Homestead in the Semifinal, allowing his team to make a comeback while he hit a two-RBI double to give them a lead. The senior then closed the game against Whitefish Bay, all while driving in three runs with the help of a home run and a triple. He finished off the last two innings of that matchup, too. Sandee’s two-way presence will continue to be vital for this program come Monday night.

Nolan Sandee [6/4/24]

RHP/C Ben Ott (2024; Wisconsin-La Crosse (football)) and RHP Jack Stuck (2025) were each solid on the mound in their outings on Tuesday, reflecting a season-long trend for each right-hander. Ott clocked his FB in the upper-80s-to-low-90s throughout his outing on Tuesday—touching 92 mph multiple times. Stuck then navigated his way to a win over the Blue Dukes in five innings, improving upon a 7-2 regular season record with a 1.64 ERA.

Offensively, the middle of Nicolet’s order has been strengthened by the presence of 1B Gabe Nelson (2024), UTL James Wirth (2025) and MIF John Merk (2025). Each hit over .333 during their 2024 campaign, strengthening this offense while taking pressure off of their pitching staff. Nelson provided a big two-RBI double for Nicolet in their win, coming around to score after a throwing error to put the game away.

Gabe Nelson [6/4/24]

OF Hayden Konczal (2027) rounds out the middle of their lineup, as he has been on the barrel in multiple looks throughout the spring in his freshman season. Konczal has inserted himself in the five-spot—looking to continue to produce after accumulating three hits in two games on Tuesday.

OAK CREEK (26-3)

The Knights have been a force to be reckoned with in the 2024 season, as they enter Appleton as one of the favorites to take gold in a loaded field. Oak Creek heads north with one of the strongest offenses in the state—featuring some of the top seniors in Wisconsin.

It starts with the work of RHP/OF Payten Jibben (2024; Illinois-Chicago), an elite two-way presence that continues to shine on the varsity stage. Jibben entered Sectionals hitting .517 with 19 extra base hits and 42 RBIs. He was 9-0 on the mound in nine starts—showcasing a low 0.66 ERA in 42 innings pitched. The right-hander continued his electric with a solid six innings turned in against Kenosha Tremper. Jibben struck out four batters and only allowed two hits in his start—tallying a 10th win in 2024. With the bat, Jibben finished 3-for-6 in two games, providing two RBIs in their first matchup against the Trojans. He has emerged as one of the top performers traveling to Appleton this week, and will look to maintain this momentum against Nicolet in game one.

Payten Jibben [7/11/23]

C Nathan Hanel (2024; Wisconsin-Parkside) and OF/LHP Cade Palkowski (2024; Wisconsin-Milwaukee) have each been productive toward the top half of the lineup for Oak Creek, as they each entered Tuesday with a BA of .400 and above. Palkowski has been solid on the mound for the Knights, too. He may see some action throughout their time in Appleton, as the left-hander closed out the final 1.2 innings against Kenosha Indian Trail to send them to the State Tournament.

A pair of underclassmen in INF/DH Mack Endres (2026) and INF Gavin Zastrow (2027) have been key at the bottom of the order all season long for the Knights—gaining valuable experience in their first season at the varsity stage. Endres provided a 3-for-3 performance against the Hawks in their Sectional Final, driving in a pair of runs and doubling once. Zastrow hit .379 on the season with 20 RBIs, most of which coming from the last spot in the order. Each will have a key presence up at Fox Cities Stadium come Monday.

Mack Endres [3/3/24]

OF Nate Schopf (2025) and INF CJ Trask (2024; Bradley) add onto the offensive and defensive prowess of this program, as each has clutched up for Oak Creek in the recent past to power them on a stretch of winning 15 of their last 16 games.

On the pitching staff, RHP’s Ryan Buchta (2025) and Brady Rickert (2024; Heartland CC) will be looked to in order to allow the Knights to continue their magical season under the helm of head coach Scott Holler. Entering Sectionals, they were a combined 10-2 on the year—looking to improve those numbers as their season comes to a close.

The depth and experience of this group sets up Oak Creek to make a possible run, as they’ll have to battle against Nicolet right away tomorrow night.


The Cardinals have been one of the most complete teams in the Badger State all season, as they enter Appleton on a high note despite dropping a couple of games late in the regular season. Sun Prairie East is tasked with handling a hot Hudson program right away on Monday.

RHP/1B Drew Kavanaugh (2024; Wisconsin-Eau Claire (football)) has been the leader all season for this unit, traveling to Appleton with a .417 BA to go with a flawless 8-0 record on the bump. Kavanaugh has a 1.83 ERA on the season to go with five complete games, striking out 66 batters in 61.2 innings of work. At the plate, the senior has provided a team-high 39 RBIs, as he has been the leader of two-way athletes at Sun Prairie East.

The pitching staff is also made up of upside sophomores in RHP Brady Stelzer (2026) and LHP Joseph Tamboli (2026), as each have succeeded in important innings for head coach Jack Marchese and the Cardinals in 2024. The two have combined for a 9-2 record in 2024, as Stelzer secured a five-inning, run-rule win over No. 14 Monona Grove to punch their ticket to the State Tournament.

Brady Stelzer [3/10/24]

1B/OF John Hadley VI (2024; Wisconsin-Milwaukee) has been one of the most productive bats in the state of Wisconsin in 2024—continuing his strong senior season in Appleton this week. Hadley produced a .527 BA to go with eight extra base hits and 27 RBIs from the left side of the plate. He recently launched a home run against Madison Memorial in a 3-for-3 performance—summarizing the kind of season he has enjoyed.

John Hadley VI [6/4/24]

INF Max Glusick (2025) is right behind him in this deep batting order, as the junior produced a .477 BA throughout the year to go with a team-high 43 hits. Glusick is one of the top uncommitted juniors in the Badger State’s 2025 class, and has looked the part throughout all of the spring. He powered the offense against the Silver Eagles, going 3-for-3 with two doubles and a pair of runs scored in a blowout win. Glusick is joined by OF Sam Ostrenga (2024; North Dakota (football)) at the top of this lineup, another productive bat who has hit over .400 this season.

Max Glusick [5/11/24]

INF Isaac Wendler (2024), UTL/RHP Van Vogler (2026) and C Manuel Abreu Socorro (2026) are three bats toward the bottom of the lineup who have also played important roles this season. OF Luke Damm (2024) has been clutch in multiple looks from the nine-spot for the Cardinals, as all four look to continue their successful ways at Fox Cities Stadium.


The Falcons round out this preview story as a group that has quietly gone about their business, and now find themselves in contention for a Division 1 trophy by the end of the week. Westosha Central will take on Arrowhead in the first game on Monday, in a battle between the No. 4 and No. 5 seeds.

The pitching staff has been a huge difference-maker for the Falcons in 2024, as it starts with the work of RHP Brody Schulte (2025) and LHP/1B Joseph Suokko (2025). During their regular season campaign, Schulte was a perfect 6-0 on the year. The right-hander only improved his record during this playoff stretch, as the right-hander twirled a complete game shutout against Mukwonago, and secured another win versus Badger in the Sectional Final to advance his team to the State Tournament.

Brody Schulte [3/27/24]

Suokko has been more of the same for Westosha Central, as the left-hander provided his program with a 6-1 record during the regular season—showcasing a low 0.78 ERA in 45 innings of work. Suokko has been solid all season, despite running into a bit of trouble against Janesville Craig in the Sectional Semifinal on Tuesday. The two arms will be key for the Falcons’ future success come Monday.

Joseph Suokko [3/3/24]

OF Carson Sieler (2025) and C Mason Mitacek (2024; Wisconsin-Parkside) are a pair of upperclassmen who have powered the Westosha Central offense all season. Sieler burst onto the scene with a .427 BA, leading the team with 36 hits and seven doubles on the season. The junior was 3-for-3 against the Cougars, scoring one run while driving one in from the leadoff spot. Mitacek is right behind him with 10 extra base hits—batting .378 with a .573 slugging percentage. Mitacek was clutch in their Sectional Final game—finishing 3-for-4 with two runs scored, a double and an RBI in a narrow 4-3 win.

INF Charlie Dietz (2025) has put together a solid season—looking to be a key piece in the middle of their order right away on Monday. Dietz hit .329 with 25 hits and 12 RBIs.

RHP/INF Max Nottingham (2025) rounds out this roster for Westosha Central, as he played the most important two-way role for the Falcons on Tuesday. Nottingham closed both games in a successful fashion, allowing zero runs over the course of the five innings he pitched. In all five, Nottingham was handed a one-run lead and succeeded in maintaining that margin for Westosha Central. His presence out of the bullpen, in addition to being a competitive batter, makes him a prospect to watch out for throughout their matchup against the Warhawks at Fox Cities Stadium.