By Paul Lecker
Stratford High School is having a sports year for the ages.
Stratford’s girls volleyball team, and boys wrestling and football teams each earned silver trophies with runner-up finishes in the WIAA state finals. Both the girls and boys basketball teams reached sectionals, the boys after an undefeated regular season, and the softball team made a late postseason run to the regional finals.
Now the Stratford baseball team is on to state. The Tigers (20-2) will take on Boyceville (19-3) in a Division 3 semifinal at the 2019 WIAA State Baseball Tournament in Grand Chute, near Appleton, at 1 p.m. Wednesday. Markesan (21-5) will play Ozaukee (12-7) in the other semifinal, with the winners playing for the D-3 state title at noon on Thursday.
Stratford is playing in its first state tournament since 1989, its only other appearance, when it lost in the Class C semifinals.
Stratford, winners of the Marawood Conference South Division title for the first time since 2004, has lost just once since falling 10-0 to Fond du Lac St. Mary’s Springs on April 5, that coming by one run at Marathon on April 30. Two days later, the Tigers beat Marathon 1-0 to start a 13-game winning streak that includes four shutouts and a run where they have outscored their opponents 112-18.
Boyceville comes in nearly as hot. The Bulldogs, who finished second in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference, have won nine games in a row with four shutouts.
Boyceville takes a young squad into the tournament as three of its top four batters are sophomores.
First baseman Trevor Hollister leads Boyceville with a .394 batting average and is one of three players, along with shortstop Walker Retz and catcher Trett Joles, who have 26 RBIs on the season. All three are sophomores.
Another sophomore, Connor Sempf, is the Bulldogs’ top starting pitcher, going 9-1 in 10 starts and a 0.98 ERA. Hollister is the team’s top reliever, giving up just two earned runs with 46 strikeouts in 30 1/3 innings for a 0.46 ERA. Retz is 7-2 in 15 appearances (eight starts) with a 1.59 ERA and has 77 strikeouts in 48 1/3 innings.
Stratford has been riding stellar pitching as well, allowing just six runs in its five playoff games.
Senior Lance Heidmann leads the way. He went 6-1 in eight starts with a 0.46 ERA and rode a 34-inning scoreless streak until allowing two runs in the sectional semifinal win over Iola-Scandinavia. Junior Chandler Schmidt has been the team’s No. 2 starter in the playoffs and in 10 combined appearances, has a 5-0 record and a 1.42 ERA, striking out 32 in 24 2/3 innings.
Junior first baseman Dawson Moen leads the Tigers in batting average at .393, RBIs with 21 and runs scored with 20. Senior Kade Ehrike enters state with a .372 average, with Ty Pankratz and Colten Schillinger each batting .364, and Schmidt .361 with 19 RBIs.
The semifinals will be streamed live on the WIAA.TV portal of the NFHS Network on a subscription basis. To purchase a subscription to the live programming, log-on to www.wiaa.tv and click on the image in the middle of the screen to begin ordering your subscription. All of the championship games will be televised live on Fox Sports Wisconsin.
Watch for highlights on the Zaleski Sports Show Facebook page and recaps here at OnFocus.news.
2019 WIAA State Baseball Tournament
June 11-13, at Fox Cities Stadium, Grand Chute
Tuesday, June 11
Division 1 Quarterfinals
Burlington (24-5) 3, Green Bay Preble (24-4) 0
Sun Prairie (23-7) 3, Oak Creek (21-7) 0
Eau Claire North (23-4) 15, Sussex Hamilton (19-9) 12
Fond du Lac (14-12) 2, Brookfield East (18-9) 1
Division 1 Semifinals
Burlington (24-5) vs. Sun Prairie (23-7), 6 p.m.
Eau Claire North (23-4) vs. Fond du Lac (14-12), approximately 8:30 p.m.
Wednesday, June 12
Division 4 Semifinals
Webster (28-0) vs. Athens (18-4), 8 a.m.
Belmont (17-8) vs. Mineral Point (26-0), approximately 10:30 a.m.
Division 3 Semifinals
Boyceville (19-3) vs. Stratford (20-2), 1 p.m.
Markesan (21-5) vs. Ozaukee (12-7), approximately 3:30 p.m.
Division 2 Semifinals
Antigo (19-5) vs. West De Pere (27-2), 6 p.m.
McFarland (20-9) vs. Union Grove (26-3), approximately 8:30 p.m.
Thursday, June 13
Division 4, 9 a.m.
Division 3, noon
Division 2, 3 p.m.
Division 1, 6 p.m.
Paul Lecker is publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com, a contributor to OnFocus sports.