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by Marlys Kruger
BOYCEVILLE — With a little under 200 students in grades 9-12 at Boyceville High School, the chances of one of them signing a Division 1 college athletic scholarship is considered quite slim. But to have two athletes in the same class and same sport to receive scholarship offers is pretty amazing.
That is the case for Boyceville seniors Walker Retz and Trett Joles, who will continue their baseball careers next year at the collegiate level. Walker will play at The University of St. Thomas in the Twin Cities while Trett will be further away at Indiana State University in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Both athletes have been on the Boyceville varsity since their freshmen year and were instrumental in the team winning a conference championship as freshmen and advancing to the WIAA state tournament as sophomores. (Due to COVID-19, there were no spring sports played their junior year).
Trett, the son of Harry and Kathy Joles, has been the starting catcher and as a freshman batted .440 with 17 RBI, and his sophomore year he led the Bulldogs in home runs with four with 26 RBI and 17 stolen bases with a .328 batting average.
Walker, the son of Jayme and Kathy Retz, is a pitcher and shortstop for the team and carried a .320 batting average with eight RBI his freshman season and went 7-3 on the mound his sophomore year. He threw 52 and a third innings to lead the team with a .187 earned run average and showed his hitting abilities with 27 RBIs and a .380 batting average.
“I knew they were both special when they earned starting positions on varsity as freshmen and handled their own in conference,” Boyceville head baseball coach Michael Roemhild said. “Trett has been a starting catcher for me since day one. He takes control behind the plate, is a leader on the field, and is the best high school catcher I have ever seen. Walker has been a starting pitcher and shortstop since his freshman year also. He has turned into a phenomenal pitcher with a wealth of baseball knowledge. These are the positions where your best athletes have to play, and you are not hidden,” he added.
Walker came up through the ranks via T-ball, pitchball and Little League. After wrestling his freshman year of high school, he decided it wasn’t the sport for him and he switched to basketball in his sophomore and junior years.
He decided his love for baseball and his talents were strong enough for him to concentrate on the sport in hopes of playing after high school. He had several offers from other colleges but decided St. Thomas would be a good fit for him.
“It is close enough to home so I can see my family and they can watch me play,” he said. “I am recruited as a pitcher only. The coaches noticed me after playing summer and fall ball with the Minnesota Iceman Baseball organization.”
The Minnesota Iceman is a developmental league based out of the Twin Cities and was founded by current and former collegiate and professional players. It allows young players to learn from coaches who help them achieve their baseball goals. Walker had to try out for the U17 team and was the only player from Wisconsin to make the roster. His team played in tournaments in Illinois and Indiana as well as Minnesota.
“Although many of my travel team and high school coaches helped guide me along the way, my dad (Jayme Retz) was probably my biggest influence in pursuing high-level baseball,” Walker said.
Before he heads off to college, Walker has set some team and personal goals for his final high school season.
” I want to win the state tournament and not give up a hit throughout the entire season,” he said. “A tough loss in the state tournament two years ago pushed me to train harder. I gained nearly 15 mph velocity on my fastball since then,” he added.
Walker has not received any kind of a training schedule for next year but he believes the biggest difference between high school and college ball will be the atmosphere along with the level of teammates and coaches he will be surrounded by.
Several colleges showed interest in Trett for baseball and wrestling, but although he enjoyed wrestling, baseball had become his passion and his dream was to play college baseball. Some of the schools looking at him for baseball were the University of Minnesota, North Dakota State University, the University of Texas, UW-Milwaukee and Arkansas at Little Rock.
“The scholarship offer from Indiana State was too good to turn down,” he said. “Especially from a baseball school like Indiana State. They finished 23rd in the country in Division 1 in 2019. They play in the Missouri Valley Conference which is ranked just in front of the Big 10 for conference rankings,and they won the MV Conference championship in 2019,” he added.
Trett also was impressed with the strength and conditioning coach and program at ISU.
“I talked with the coach and he mentioned that they lift like baseball players, not football players,” Trett said. “One of the biggest things for me when choosing a college was the overall structure of the strength and conditioning program. Where many colleges’ programs are focused mainly on Olympic style lifting, ISU’s program is very sport specific with a very modern approach.”
Trett also learned basic skills from his youth programs, and along with high school ball, played for GRB Academy in the summer. This is another elite baseball program based in Wisconsin and is a leader in player development for players throughout the Midwest. After missing his junior year of high school ball, Trett believes Greg Reinhard, the owner of GRB was instrumental in getting his name out there by getting videos to various coaches.
“Boyceville has a very strong youth program,” Trett said. “I was blessed with great coaches ever since elementary ball and I am thankful for them. Coach Roemhild and coach Retz are some of the best coaches I’ve been around and their ability to teach our team the mental aspect of the game (as well as the physical part) is what I am most thankful for. I am also thankful for my wrestling coaches, (Jamie) Olson and (Corey) Day as well as my academy coach Jordy Crass with Cross Trained Wrestling Club, for supporting my unexpected decision to pursue college baseball rather than wrestling,” he added.
Although he may play some outfield or third base for the Sycamores, Trett knows his main position is catcher and he would like to step into that position eventually. But before he gets that far, like Walker, he has some goals he would like to complete this spring.
“We want to win state this year and I think it can be done if we stay focused as a team and continue to improve this offseason,” he said.
Coach Roemhild has the same expectations for both boys as he did when they stepped on the field as freshmen.
“I want them to have fun and compete and share their love of the game with their teammates,” he said. “I want them to lead the team and be able to say at the end of the year they put their all into every game and have no regrets. I want them to be proud of the name on the front of their jersey and I know they will do all these things. Coaching them for two years has been special; coaching them for three will be memorable. You don’t have players like this come around very often. I am excited for the season to start and am looking forward to seeing how much they have matured since their sophomore year.”
“To have them get offers to play college baseball really makes you proud that their hard work is getting noticed,” he continued. “I know having two players sign to play Division I baseball from our school has never happened before. It hasn’t been done in a lot of small towns around here.”
“I can’t take credit for it though. These two love baseball. Their families put in a lot of time in the summer getting them to ball games. Their youth coaches taught them the skills and they have picked up a wealth of knowledge from traveling coaches and the players they play with. Both schools are getting great baseball players who are unbelievable students of the game. Not only that, they are humble as well,” he concluded.