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De Pere’s Staniske ends career at UWO on top

By Greg Bates

OSHKOSH – Hunter Staniske has always been a good hitter and worked on his craft.

But what he did this past season – his last on the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh (UWO) baseball team – was off the charts.

The De Pere native finished second in the Wisconsin Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WIAC) in batting average (.429) and RBIs (51) and third in hits (66) and slugging percentage (.695).

Hunter Staniske

“That’s one of the better offensive outputs I’ve seen in the eight years of coaching here at this point,” UWO baseball coach Kevin Tomasiewicz said. “He did a fantastic job this year.”

Staniske’s season allowed him to rack up some impressive postseason accolades.

He became the third UWO baseball player ever to be named an All-American by both the American Baseball Coaches Association (ABCA) and d3baseball.com.

Staniske, who is a second baseman, was a second-team selection by ABCA.

He also hit safely in 28 straight games, falling one game short of the longest hitting streak in UWO history.

In all, he collected a hit in 37 of the Titans’ 39 games.

“I was happy to be able to play this year with COVID-19 last year, not being able to play my junior season,” Staniske said. “It felt good to get back on the field and start playing. I didn’t play summer ball, either. To excel at the sport at that level was something else. It was fun to do, but to get back on the field was the major thing.”

Staniske carved out a solid career after not being recruited out of high school.

A 2017 De Pere graduate, he showed up at a UWO camp, and Tomasiewicz said he was impressed when he saw him hit.

Staniske ended up walking on after having surgery on his back before his freshman season.

“Unfortunately, when I came in, I had a back brace on, and I couldn’t play fall ball, so I had to make the team and put lots of rehab work in,” Staniske said. “I’ve been an underdog ever since high school, working my way out of injuries.”

In his first year, Staniske got into the starting lineup late in the season, hitting .319 and helping the Titans into the NCAA Tournament.

He solidified the second base position and hit .333 with 29 RBIs as a sophomore.

After the year, Staniske underwent shoulder surgery.

After the pandemic stole most of his junior season, he hit .491 in the first 28 games as a senior.

Staniske had a late-season skid where he hit .273 in the final 11 contests to drop his average to .429.

“I had that streak, which I didn’t know was happening until later on,” Staniske said. “During that streak, every time I got to the plate, I was ready to hit.”

Tomasiewicz said a key to Staniske’s strength as a hitter is his swing path.

“Everyone talks about launch angle (off the bat),” he said. “In the old school mindset, you had a level bat through the strike zone and tried to hit line drives, now everyone’s talking about launch angle. Hunter’s swing is a nice balance of the two. There’s a little uppercut to it, which allows him to elevate some baseballs. When they’re thrown in a certain spot, he can hammer them.”

Despite not being able to play much his junior season, Staniske’s batting average jumped nearly 100 points from his sophomore to senior campaigns.

“It’s about repetitions in our league,” Tomasiewicz said. “You see it quite often. Getting the at-bats, getting to understand the competition and allowing them to see different pitchers every year is the way to grow. Hunter batted between 1-5 (in the order) three years here, so he saw the hard breaking balls. He was attacked because he was there in the lineup. He learned to lay off bad pitches. He had a fantastic approach at the plate.”

After the Titans’ season ended, Staniske considered playing another season because the NCAA granted every athlete an additional season due to the pandemic.

“There were talks about it,” Staniske said. “There were parents, coaches – I sat down and talked about my future outside of baseball. With graduating, it was the best option to move on from baseball. The biggest factor was the body. I had back and shoulder surgeries, so recovering from those and having the body wear down over the years, it was best to move on.”

Staniske graduated with a major in business management and a minor in insurance and risk management.

He’s wrapping up an internship at Secure Insurance in Appleton and will soon be looking for a full-time job.

“I’ve played for the majority of my life (18 years), and it’s been a staple,” Staniske said. “I don’t know how it’s going to feel. It’s going to be weird, I think. I’m happy I went out on top and feel like I couldn’t have put any more than I did into the game.”

Tomasiewicz said it’s going to be hard to replace an All-American in his lineup and a team leader on the bench.

“Everybody asked me when he got on the All-America team, ‘How are you going to replace those numbers, especially at second base?’” he said. “I said, ‘Yeah, it’s going to be tough. We’re going to have to take the Moneyball approach and go find three guys and combine their stats to replace one guy.’ He’s going to be sorely missed next year.”

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