Early this season, the Muskego pitching staff had a few questions, but once those were answered, the Warriors were well on their way to a 25-victory campaign.
Muskego began the year with injuries to prospective pitchers David Petfalski, Zachary Schulz and Andrew Buelow, limiting the mound options for head coach Jacob Paige and his staff.
'We needed some guys to step up and pitch extra innings,' Paige said. 'This meant more work for Jacob Breider, Jake Homan and Rob Zolecki, and Matt Faust gave us some good innings as well.'
The pitchers endured some struggles early, with double-digit defeats at the hands of WIAA state champion Menomonee Falls and Kettle Moraine, and after a loss to Waukesha West in early June, the Warriors stood at 4-2 in the Classic 8 Conference and in a three-way tie for the lead.
After that, though, Breider, Homan and Zolecki quickly developed into a solid one-two-three punch at the top of the rotation.
'We didn't have that one set ace,' Paige said, 'but all three of them did a great job.'
The Warriors then went on a run, winning their final 14 Classic 8 games to claim the crown at 18-2, six games ahead of runner-up Waukesha North.
They also captured a WIAA regional championship and advanced to a sectional title game, which they lost to Oak Creek to end their season at 25-7.
'Everyone settled into their roles,' Paige said. 'We put a plan together, and we stuck to it. I give our seniors plenty of credit; they kept things together.'
The pitching staff had to find its way, but the hitting attack was strong all season for Muskego, which tallied 10 or more runs on 12 occasions, including twice in WIAA tournament action.
The offense was extremely well-balanced, too. Senior Brett Finke led in batting average with .417 and in runs scored with 39; senior Ryan Tobin in walks with 24 and in on-base percentage with .516; senior Michael Frasher in runs batted in with 29; and junior Alex Kalisnig in extra-base hits with 16 (14 doubles) and in slugging average at .598.
In addition, senior Caleb Wagner batted .381 and led the team in stolen bases with nine, and junior Ryan Zizzo hit .340 and brought in 22 runs.
Muskego finished with four players driving in at least 20 runs and four scoring 30 or more runs.
The defense was also solid this season, giving the pitchers plenty of help.
'I don't think there is a better centerfielder around than Caleb,' Paige said. 'Brett is one of the best defensive infielders I have ever had at Muskego, and Ryan (Zizzo) was solid behind the plate and caught almost every game.'
The Warriors were well-rewarded on the all-conference team, placing Frasher, Wagner, Kalisnig, Zizzo, Finke and Breider on the first squad; Tobin, Homan and sophomore Frankie Cistaro on the second unit; and Zolecki on honorable mention.
Paige was also named the Coach of the Year in the Classic 8.
The Warriors lose seven seniors, including four three-year starters in Frasher, Wagner, Tobin and Finke. The others are Petfalski, Breider and Homan.
'We will be younger next year,' Paige said. 'Zizzo will be back, and Kalisnig will be one of the better hitters in the area. We did have four sophomores on the roster (Cistaro, Schulz, Zolecki and Faust).
'Our junior varsity team had eight freshmen and won 16 games. I think with our returnees, plus the younger players back, we will be fine.'