Sports

Evansville it is

by Dave Boehler
Beacon Sports Editor

NORTH’S BRENT WIDDER will play his final high school season before taking his baseball talents to the University of Evansville. – Submitted photo

The University of Evansville went from unknown to the future home of Brent Widder.

The Sheboygan North senior baseball player found out the school in Indiana was interested him just before his junior year started, and the next thing he knew he decided to play for the Purple Aces

“It’s pretty incredible,” he said. “You get called by a school that you never really heard of before and you don’t know anything about. I didn’t know what to think at the time. I didn’t know anything about them.

“I ended up doing a little research, talked to the coaches, got to know what the school’s about, what conference they’re in, outweighing the positives and negatives of it, all the stuff that went into me choosing it. But it definitely made it interesting not even hearing about the school and then a week later I’m extremely interested in it and I love it.”

The process all started when Widder attended the Future Games in Indiana as a member of Team Wisconsin the summer of 2017. The event is a showcase for baseball player hoping to continue their career in college and possibly beyond.

“The main attraction going there is trying to get some coaches’ eye and overall gain interest, because that was my goal growing up, to play baseball in college,” Widder said. “I knew this was a big opportunity for me to get seen by more coaches.”

But to Widder’s surprise, Evansville contacted him before he even returned home.

“It was pretty incredible,” he said. “I didn’t expect anything to happen that soon. … I didn’t know what to expect because I had never heard of Evansville. I talked to the coach and he was awesome, and that was probably one of the coolest moments ever.”

Widder visited the campus a short time later and decided to commit the fall of his junior year.

It was the only Division I school that recruited Widder and he still had plenty of time to see if others would become interested, but he says he knew Evansville was the place he wanted to be.

Widder also wanted to be on the all-state team last season but ended up second-team all-Fox River Classic Conference after he hit .304 to go with an on-base percentage of .500 with 16 runs and eight runs batted in.

Widder felt he could have had a better year at the plate.

“His value isn’t necessarily in his batting average,” North coach Steve Goes said. “To me, it’s one portion of it. The plays he makes defensively, off the bat, somebody will hit a ball and you think it’s up the middle. Then I see Brent reaching over the ball’s halfway to first already. He’s that smooth defensively.”

Widder improved offensively last summer and helped the Sheboygan Legion team win the state championship.

What happened in the title game is one of the reasons he is getting a Division I scholarship, according to his coach. It was a tie game with runners on first and third (Widder), and the plan was for his teammate to steal second.

“I just walked right up to him and said, ‘you’re scoring,’” Goes said. “A lot of kids, I would have had to explain that to. And Brent left at the perfect time. If he would’ve left any earlier, the catcher might have thrown him out. If he would’ve left later, he would’ve been out. Then the ball beat him to the plate, but he dove around it and it was just an unbelievable play. Now all of a sudden instead of being the end of the inning, we’re up 3-2.

Widder’s defense on the last play of the championship game also showed why he’s a future Purple Ace.

“He made an over-the-shoulder running catch on a ball that probably nine out of 10 high school shortstops don’t get to,” Goes said. “Fundamentally he does everything right. So the batting average (last year) doesn’t tell the whole story.”

North, which finished 6-3 in the FRCC (10-9 overall) last season, also features two others who made all-conference in senior infielder Jacob Neese (first team) and senior outfielder Harry Feinburg (honorable mention).

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