Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Elevation of high school baseball provides UW with untapped resources 

Division 1 commits littered across Badger state, but UW can’t capitalize
Maddox Durst
College baseball commit Cashton Jones currently plays at Vel Phillips Memorial High School. May 1, 2024.

Simply put, high school baseball in the state of Wisconsin has never been better.

According to Prep Baseball Wisconsin, there are 40 prospects in the 2024 graduating class attending a Division 1 university in the fall. It’s a testament to the elevation of play within the state, as competition increases and players improve, despite not being able to get on to an outdoor baseball field for all 12 months of the year.

The trend has expanded in the 2025 class, who stand as juniors in high school right now. In the Badger state, there are seven commits to Big Ten universities to date, as more make their final commitment in the next year or so.


Pete Schlosser — after a storied career at Oconomowoc High School — originally signed a letter of intent to play baseball at the University of Wisconsin in 1991. Unfortunately for Schlosser, he never got the opportunity to do so, as the baseball program shut down its operations in that same year.

He remained heavily involved with the university and still is today. His daughter, Molly, currently plays on UW–Madison’s softball team, which sends him and his family to Goodman Diamond for multiple weekends in the spring.

When he’s not in Madison, Schlosser is surrounded by the high school baseball scene. He is one of the owners at GRB STiKS Academy in Waukesha — one of the top travel baseball programs in the state — in addition to being around the Oconomowoc baseball program, both of which are with his son, Luke.

Since baseball has not been reinstated at the university, prospects from high schools, GRB STiKS Academy and other organizations throughout the state miss out on the chance to represent the UW–Madison.

The former baseball star has witnessed and helped with the development of these young, rising stars and realized the maturation of baseball in Wisconsin. The in-state talent being produced could bode well for UW–Madison in the future.

“The University of Wisconsin has a true opportunity to be a really strong program in the Big Ten, as these kids have raised the level of play so tremendously in the last 10 to 15 years,” Schlosser said.

Eli Bryant, a junior out of Beaver Dam, is committed to go play baseball at Kent State University — presenting enough talent as a two-way prospect to make some noise in the Big Ten, too.

Bryant is one of those athletes at GRB STiKS Academy taking advantage of the coaching and resources he has been provided for multiple years now. The two-way prospect has to play with and against some of the state’s top competition, recognizing its emerging stars.

“We have a very, very talented group of baseball players,” Bryant said about the state’s competition. “I’d say my class, the class above me and below, definitely.”

But UW–Madison doesn’t provide a Big Ten baseball program to its campus.

There is only one Division 1 baseball team in the state, located in Milwaukee at UW–Milwaukee, which competes in the Horizon League and holds a 10-27 record through their first 37 games. It’s the former home to Daulton Varsho, who has played in nearly every game for the Toronto Blue Jays in the outfield.

It proves talent can be provided by the state, but many are forced to look at out-of-state avenues to find their niche at Power Five universities, including the Big Ten.

“It’s a challenge sending these great players to our nearby schools in the Big Ten, and not having the opportunity of sending them to Wisconsin, when I know a lot of these kids would love that opportunity to play,” Schlosser said.

The club baseball team at UW–Madison has enjoyed multiple successful seasons with the work of head coach Jeff Block — incorporating a winning culture and a push to see the university bring the sport back to competing on the Division 1 stage.

Block has provided the lone opportunity to play baseball while in school at the university. The state continues to pump out quality prospects in the meantime.

In 2022, nine players who played prep baseball in Wisconsin made contributions on the Major League Baseball stage. It’s a list that includes standouts such as Gavin Lux of Kenosha Indian Trail, JP Feyereisen of River Falls and Owen Miller of Ozaukee, just to name a few.

More prospects are littered throughout the minor leagues as of right now — working through the multiple levels on a long journey to the biggest stage in the sport.

The point being, the talented, powerful left-handed swing from Lux, Miller’s all-around skill set or Feyereisen’s quality arsenal on the mound never had a chance to blossom at UW–Madison. While they may not have chosen to be a Badger if the university had a program, there is always a possibility they would have if the opportunity was there.

While high school prospects continue to elevate their status in the game, a similar sport in softball keeps gaining popularity at UW–Madison. The season may not be playing out how the Badgers intended this spring, but its young talent and veteran fan favorites draw students and the public to games every other weekend.

Schlosser is able to witness it first hand with his daughter and her presence in Wisconsin.

“[Molly] has had a number of youth teams that have come to watch her almost every weekend, which is so cool to see,” Schlosser said. “It’s such a neat thing to see these young kids coming to see these girls.”

The Madison Night Mares just announced their team mascot a couple of weeks ago — increasing the interest in the game of softball throughout Dane County, in addition to the work of the Madison Mallards in the Northwoods League.

Baseball can continue to provide that spark into the conclusion of the school year for all of campus, in a similar fashion to the softball team. Head coach Yvette Healy and her coaching staff have taken over recruiting in the state, as their roster already boasts six Wisconsinites with more coming in the 2024 class.

Why couldn’t a college baseball program do the same thing?

“It could be an incredible overall experience, not only for the students at the university, [but] the university in general as well as the public,” Schlosser said.

With the expansion of the Big Ten Conference this upcoming fall, UW–Madison will be the lone university without a baseball program out of the 18 teams. It points to a potential loss at television revenue and more publicity Madison and the Badgers could gain from having a baseball team, which could possibly guide for more considerations to bring the sport back.

Regardless of UW–Madison’s status, the high school talent in the state is prominent. Its longevity and prowess has evolved into contributions to some of the highest levels of baseball, and Wisconsin’s prospects have created a hotbed for talent on the diamond.

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