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State preview: Webster, Athens meet in matchup of defending state champs

By WBC staff, 06/10/19, 10:15PM CDT

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The Division 4 semifinals have a fascinating matchup to kick things off on the second day of the tournament. Defending state champions will take a swing at each other when Webster faces Athens.

The rundown

Webster is making its third straight trip to state. The Tigers won the Division 3 state championship last year, and lost in the Division 4 semifinals two years ago. They are undefeated at 28-0 and won the Lakeland West Conference title. To get to state they beat Shell Lake, Northwood, Butternut/Mercer and Thorp.

Athens is the two-time defending Division 4 state champion. The Fighting Bluejays are back at state with an 18-4 record this season. They’re the Marawood North Conference champion. To return to state, they defeated Newman Catholic, Edgar, Greenwood and Gibraltar/Washington Island.

Here’s a breakdown of the matchup based on the following categories: hitting, pitching, and base running. The teams are rated on a 100 point scale, with 100 being the best. There are a possible 45 points in both the hitting and pitching categories, and 10 in the base running category.

Hitting

Webster: 45 out of 45 points

Athens: 45 out of 45 points

Both of these teams mash the ball, so there’s not much difference between them on offense.

Webster has two starters hitting over. 500, and seven hitting over .400. Leading them all is Owen Washburn with a .561 average, 13 doubles, three triples, seven home runs and 45 RBIs. Jack Washburn hits .529 with eight doubles, five triples and six home runs. He has also driven in 45 runs. Hunter Rosenbaum (.434, eight doubles, 3 triples, two homers) is close behind with 43 RBIs. Matt Buffington (.462, 19 RBIs), Trevor Gustafson (.419, six doubles, five triples, six home runs, 38 RBIs), Carsen Stenberg (.403, 23 RBIs) and Brad Sigfrids (.402, 25 RBIs) all hit above .400. The Tigers have slugged 25 homers as a team – unbelievable power for a high school team.

Athens hits .364 as a team, led by UW-La Crosse commit Seth Coker. The all-state caliber infielder hits .594 with nine doubles, two triples, two homers and 22 RBIs. Connor Westfall and Cobie Ellenbrecker both hit .417. Javon Penney comes in with a .390 batting average to go with 18 RBIs, and Dakota Willemssen (.371) leads the team with 25 RBIs. Dayne Diethelm (.348, 23 RBIs) and Derek Czech (.338, 11 RBIs) are the other two starters to hit over .300.

Pitching

Webster: 45 out of 45 points

Athens: 40 out of 45 points

Webster has arguably the best pitching of any team in the state, and gets another perfect score in this category. Jack Washburn, an Oregon State commit, and Rosenbaum, a West Virginia commit, have been practically unhittable this year. Washburn is 11-0 with a 0.13 ERA and 111 strikeouts in 55 innings pitched, while Rosenbaum is 10-0 with a 0.00 ERA. That’s right, he hasn’t allowed any earned runs all year. Owen Washburn (4-0, 1.12 ERA) and Gustafson (1-0, 0.00 ERA) add considerable depth on the mound.

Athens is no slouch on the mound either. Coker and Willemssen are their top two starters. Coker is 8-1 with a 1.70 ERA, while Willmessen has gone 6-0 and posted a 0.42 ERA. Czech is 3-2 with a 2.88 ERA as the team’s other primary pitcher.

Base running

Webster: 10 out of 10 points

Athens: 8 out of 10 points

Webster has stolen 106 bases this year, led by Jack Washburn’s 29. Stenberg has taken 23 bases, and Owen Washburn has 20. Rosenbaum has 12. They’ve done most of the damage for the Tigers.

Athens is led by Coker’s 16 steals, followed closely by Diethelm’s 12 and Penney’s 10. Ellenbecker has nine steals.

The verdict

Webster: 100 out of 100 points

Athens: 93 out of 100 points

Webster is making its case as the best Division 4 team of all time. But they’ll have their toughest test of the season when they take on the two-time defending state champions – a team also looking to make a claim as the best dynasty in Division 4. The Fighting Bluejays will need to play excellent baseball to get back to a third state championship game, but they’ve got the experience to do so. Both teams know what it takes to win at Fox Cities Stadium, so get ready for a good one in the Division 4 semifinals.

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