Prep Baseball Report

WIAA State Finals: Division 4 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. 

The Division 4 field has provided some interesting results in the past, and will look to do the same with a couple of star-studded teams making their way to Appleton. Eleva-Strum, Johnson Creek, Pacelli and Solon Springs/Northwood represent the four programs that have advanced to this point, each featuring a couple of intriguing prospects. Learn more about each team—including stats, notes and highlights, all below.


The Cardinals entered the 2024 season as one of the top Division 4 teams to watch out for this spring. Through the first eight games of the season though, Eleva-Strum sat at a 4-4 overall record. The key was the experience for this group, who arguably was challenged with the toughest schedule in the Division 4 field throughout the entire season.

Head coach CJ Christianson’s group was tasked with facing powers from higher divisions such as Medford, Denmark, Wisconsin Lutheran and Pewaukee, which paid dividends in the end as they make their way to Appleton at the start of next week.

Their pitching staff has done the heavy lifting during this playoff stretch, starting with the work of RHP Carter Gunderson (2024; North Iowa Area CC commit). Before the playoffs, the wiry right-hander finished the season with 71 strikeouts in 38.1 innings—holding a 1.63 ERA. He has maintained that momentum during the playoff run, limiting Columbus Catholic to just one run in a complete game effort—finishing with eight strikeouts and four hits allowed to send them to Sectionals.

Carter Gunderson [7/18/23]

RHP’s Tyler Webb (2024; Wisconsin-Eau Claire) and Jake Bjerke (2024; Winona State University) recently combined to advance past a previously undefeated Bangor team in a 3-2 final—contributing to the depth of this pitching staff. Webb struck out seven and walked zero to one of the most potent offenses in Division 4, and Bjerke closed the 0.2 innings to advance the Cardinals. After that matchup, Webb came back on Tuesday and slammed the door against a strong Pittsville team—punching out seven more batters in a complete game shutout.

From there, Eleva-Strum has been able to manufacture enough runs on the offensive end—entering the stage as one of the most battle-tested programs in the state. INF Justin Becker (2024), OF Brady Nichols (2024) and OF Alex Anderson (2024) join their teammates as some of the top bats within the Cardinals’ lineup, as they’ll need some run production at the State Tournament to fight for a championship.

Eleva-Strum notched the No. 1 seed in this field, as they will take on a hot Pacelli team right away on Tuesday morning—starting at approximately 11:30 a.m. at Fox Cities Stadium.


The Bluejays enjoyed one of the strongest starts in the state—beginning their season 16-0 before hitting a bit of a rough patch to finish the regular season at a 4-4 clip. Regardless of that slow stretch, Johnson Creek was the No. 1 seed in their respective Regional and dominated the competition to punch their ticket to Appleton.

It starts with their workhorses on the mound between RHP’s Dylan Bredlow (2024) and Aiden Smith (2026). Each has dominated throughout the entirety of the year for the Bluejays, as they enter the State Tournament with a combined 15-2 record on the bump. With ERA’s below 1.50, both right-handers look to be the formula Johnson Creek’s uses in a two-game set that gets underway on Tuesday morning.

Each prospect has done damage at the plate, too. Smith hit .390 in his sophomore season, including 12 extra base hits as a threat in the middle of their order. It was more of the same for Bredlow, who finished with a .409 BA with 38 hits on the year.

Aiden Smith [6/27/23]

Johnson Creek boasts six starters on the offensive end who are hitting over .400 at the moment—setting up as one of the top lineups amongst the competition in Appleton. INF/C Taylor Joseph (2024) currently leads the team in hits with 39—entering the State Tournament with an impressive 17 extra base hits. INF/RHP Dugg Hartwig (2025) and OF/RHP Zach Holland (2025) are a pair of juniors who have truly excelled at the plate, along with providing positive contributions on the mound at times. Holland has taken a role in the middle of their lineup and currently leads the team in BA with a .432 line.

OF Luke Hartz (2026) and INF/RHP Tanner Herman (2025) are two more pieces that have been key on the offensive end this season for the Bluejays, as their lineup has been proven to be deep from top to bottom.

Johnson Creek is listed as the No. 2 in the State Tournament, as they will kick off the action on Tuesday with a battle against a quality Solon Springs/Northwood program.

PACELLI (18-11)

The Cardinals enter the State Tournament’s Division 4 field with the worst record, yet haven’t lost to another Division 4 competitor in the last 15 games.

Pacelli features a plethora of players who have gotten the job done for them this season, as they have put together a quality resume. UTL/RHP Asher Jordan (2024) has turned in solid production for the Cardinals throughout his senior season—emerging as their top hitter while boasting a 4-1 record on the mound by the time Regional play came to its conclusion. Jordan hit .453 with a 1.173 OPS for Pacelli—tallying a team-high 36 RBIs in the process. His two-way game will be key for the Cardinals’ success if they look to keep up this magical run.

OF/RHP Peyton Flees (2024) and INF/RHP Lucas Haemmerle (2025) have both reached base in over half of their plate appearances—setting the table as some of Pacelli’s top batters in the program. They will be tough outs for any opponent, and have been the sparks so far. Flees came up big in their upset win over Gibraltar/Washington Island, as the senior was 1-for-2 with a pair of RBIs and two runs scored to lead the way. He will be manning the centerfield position in Appleton.

As for the pitching staff, LHP Keltin Opper (2025) has thrown the most innings for the Cardinals, striking out 57 batters in 44.1 innings pitched before Sectionals took place. He punched out 10 in their Sectional Semifinal matchup against the No. 1 seeded Vikings, only allowing two hits in the process. His presence on the bump will determine how far Pacelli can make it within the Division 4 field—starting on Tuesday.

Keltin Opper [2/24/24]

To round out the roster, INF Malise Beduhn (2025) is the final piece to the puzzle for this Pacelli group. Beduhn has been in the leadoff spot for a majority of the season while playing the shortstop position, walking three times for every one strikeout during his 2024 campaign.

Pacelli will look to face Eleva-Strum around 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday at Fox Cities Stadium as the No. 4 seed in Division 4.


Solon Springs/Northwood, nestled into the upper northwest corner of the state, put together another strong regular season with a talented group of players, this time making it over the hump and advancing to the State Tournament.

The Lakeland East Conference champions boast an impressive 19-1 record, as their only blemish to their resume came in an out-of-state battle against Proctor (MN). The Green Eagles have been dominant in the Badger State though—boding well for the near future in Appleton.

Under the helm of head coach Nate Ahlberg, it’s been pure dominance from this pitching staff throughout their 2024 campaign. Solon Springs/Northwood has tallied 10 shutouts in 20 games, with much of the credit going to INF/RHP’s Abraham Ahlberg (2024; Colorado Mesa University) and Jared Schultz (2025).

Before Sectionals, Ahlberg racked up an impressive 104 strikeouts in 45 innings pitched, as he was 6-0 with a 0.62 ERA. Those numbers only improved in his Sectional Final performance against fellow No. 1 seed in Rib Lake, as the right-hander struck out 12 batters in a complete game effort to get his team to the State Tournament.

Schultz has been more of the same on the bump, going 8-0 with a low 0.39 ERA in 36.1 innings of work. He improved to 9-0 on the season with the help of a combined no-hitter in a 3-0 victory over Washburn in the Sectional Semifinal game on Tuesday—punching out 11 batters in the process.

Both of the prospects have carried their extreme production to the offensive end, too. Schultz led the team in BA at .580 through regional play, providing 12 extra base hits with an OPS of 1.607. Schultz had two big hits against the Castle Guards a couple of days ago, driving in two of their three runs. Ahlberg slots in at a .444 BA—hitting five of the seven home runs that the Green Eagles produced this season.

C/RHP Isaiah Ahlberg (2026) is another piece that has made his name known on the offensive end—batting .389 with an OPS of 1.059 and 14 stolen bases. His presence on the mound has helped out Solon Springs/Northwood, too. Ahlberg has been a clutch reliever all season behind his brother and Schultz—accumulating 35 strikeouts in 18.2 innings pitched.

Isaiah Ahlberg [2/10/24]

1B Alex Silvensky (2024) and OF Dylan Taggart (2024) round out this lineup that has provided strong performances throughout the entire season—setting them up for a competitive matchup against the No. 2 seed in Johnson Creek on Tuesday for a chance to send themselves to the championship game.