In the first two years of his high school career, Aaron Borgerding's athletic successes carried more weight because of the underclassman's ability to surpass expectations.
Prior to the beginning of his junior year of high school, Borgerding told the Herald he knew the stakes would be raised but that he was embracing them.
When Borgerding's expectations and leadership role were raised, there was no junior-season slump. This was largely due to Borgerding's continued maturity.
Borgerding and senior teammate Santana Schelgel were the only two upperclassmen on the sectional-qualifying Spring Valley Cardinals team, which recorded a 17-4 record and, like Borgerding, exceeded expectations.
Hypotheticals don't serve much purpose in high school athletics, but it's easy to conclude that the Cardinals' season would not have been as celebrated had it not been for Borgerding.
On the mound, Borgerding recorded an ERA of 1.31 and collected 54 strikeouts in 11 games pitched. He posted a record of 7-2 and a WHIP of 1.37.
At the plate, the junior Cardinal recorded a batting average .418 and a slugging percentage of .522. He recorded 28 hits, 18 RBI and only struck out five times in 67 at-bats.
But more importantly, Borgerding helped pave the way for future Cardinal baseball success.
"We got here this year," Borgerding said after his final game of the 2019 season, "and honestly, we could go pretty far next year."
Borgerding was joined on the DSC's All-Conference First Team by teammates Carter Deppa, Mike Bauer and Santana Schlegel.
Deppa led the conference at the plate with 33 hits and recorded the third-best batting average (.458). Deppa recorded 13 RBI and one home run in his sophomore season.
Sophomore Bauer recorded the second-best batting average of .468 with 29 hits, 13 RBI and one home run. On the mound, Bauer recorded an ERA of 2.50 and collected 43 strikeouts.
Schlegel, the Cardinals' lone senior, recorded a batting average of .360 with 18 hits and 16 RBI. He also contributed an impressive ERA of 1.08 and a flawless pitching record of 6-0.
Sophomores Nolan Stans and Brayden Wolf were also recognized for their impressive seasons. The two underclassmen received All-Conference honorable mention recognition.
Stans recorded a batting average of .313 with 21 hits and 19 RBI, while Wolf posted an average of .306 with 19 hits, and one home run.
Elmwood/Plum City was represented on the All-Conference list by senior Tyler Maxwell who recorded a batting average of .278, 10 hits and four RBI.
Six represent Ellsworth, Prescott on MBC All-Conference list
Six Pierce County baseball players received Middle Border All-Conference honors at the conclusion of the 2019 season.
The Ellsworth Panthers' Lucas Mallon and Urban Broadway received All-Conference honorable mention honors.
Mallon, a 2019 Ellsworth High School graduate, batted just under .300 in conference play.
"(Mallon) was a great senior leader for us," Panthers' head coach Rob Heller said. "He bounced back from a very frustrating junior season and was our most consistent hitter throughout the entire season."
Mallon won't return to play with the Panthers in 2020, but the youthful Panthers are in good hands with the return of Broadway.
"(Broadway) is a bright spot in our program as a freshman," Heller said. "He led us to our first win against Amery throwing a complete game in his first varsity start, collected two of our three conference wins and gave us a chance to win every game he started.
"We look forward to working with him the next three seasons."
The Cardinals were represented by Matthew Langer, Cam Aslakson and Noah Matzek on the All-Conference Second Team, and sophomore Austin Fox earned All-Conference honorable mention honors in his first varsity baseball season.
New Richmond's Ryan Kling was named Pitcher of the Year, and St. Croix Central's Derek Myer won the MBC's 2019 Player of the Year Award.
The online version of this article will include Prescott's season stats.