Sun Prairie’s Marquis Reuter overcomes adversity to lead MATC back to NJCAA Division II World Series
Marquis Reuter has seen a little bit of everything during his three-year run with the Madison Area Technical College baseball team.
His patience has been tested, and so has his love for the game. But as the former Sun Prairie standout sat in the sat in the stands at Robin Roberts Field earlier this week, he was all smiles as he told his story.
It’s an all’s-well-that-ends-well tale for Reuter and the WolfPack (40-9), who have advanced to the NJCAA Division II World Series for the second consecutive year and will open this year’s event against either Northeast Community College (Nebraska) or Monroe Community College (New York) on Sunday night in Enid, Oklahoma.
Reuter didn’t register a single at-bat during the team’s three-game stay in Oklahoma last season. This time, the sophomore third baseman is swinging a hot bat for the WolfPack, who earned a No. 2 seed in the 10-team field.
“Ending on a high note,” Reuter said, “is definitely a plus.”
As for the low notes, Reuter said they’ve helped him grow as a player and a person.
After redshirting in 2017, he struggled to find a spot in the lineup last season. Reuter said his issues were more mental than physical.
“I would make mistakes and beat myself up over it,” he said. “One thing would carry on to the next and I just could never really figure things out between the ears. I kind of got away from just being able to play and I’d overthink everything.”
Reuter decided that the best way to get back on track was to spend less time playing in the offseason. He needed a break, and that approach seemed to recharge his batteries.
The 2018-19 fall season arrived, and Reuter arrived for practice and games with a bounce in his step. He felt like he was in Little League again. That was about the time Reuter took a swing and felt a strange feeling in his left wrist.
After resting it for a couple of weeks, Reuter started to swing again and the same thing happened. After being diagnosed with a broken hamate bone, Reuter spent six weeks in a cast before being able to swing once again. He thought he was in the clear, but a second opinion required a second surgery because the fracture had caused issues with tendons in Reuter’s wrist.
By that time, it was mid-February, and it was clear Reuter wouldn’t be ready for the start of the 2019 season. Finally, he was cleared to return and homered in his first two games back. Then came another setback: a hamstring injury that kept him out of the lineup for two weeks.
“It’s just like, ‘C’mon, give this kid a break,’ ” WolfPack coach Mike Davenport said.
Reuter was back in the lineup for good by late April and has made up for lost time. He’s hitting .322 in 19 games this season, with five homers and 27 RBIs in 59 at-bats, and was named the Most Valuable Player in the WolfPack’s run through the Region IV tournament last weekend.
In a strange way, Reuter looks back at his struggles last season and the injury adversity this season as things that helped his approach to baseball.
“I feel like the time away helped me get back to what I loved about the game,” he said, “and not beating myself up so much.”
Reuter is one of several area players who are regulars for the WolfPack. The Sun Prairie contingent also includes shortstop Walter Jenkins (.345), outfielder Carson Holin (.330) and pitcher Taylor Jansen (5-2). Eliot Turnquist of Columbus has a 1.27 ERA and a team-high nine saves, while catcher Lucas Trebian of Madison La Follette is batting .328.
The WolfPack are making their ninth World Series appearance in 15 seasons under Davenport, and he said this team is as talented as any he’s taken to Oklahoma.
Reuter said there was a feeling the WolfPack could be special based on the large number of returnees from last season and the way the team came together in the fall. It’s a group that could have as many as 10 players playing at an NCAA Division I program next season.
Pitchers Matt Hamilton (10-0, 2.03 ERA) and Troy Hickey (5-1, 2.86 ERA), along with first baseman Jarrett Scheelk (8 HR, 48 RBI), are headed to Bradley. Second baseman Nick Gile (.436, 6 HR, 51 RBI) will play at Creighton. Jenkins, right fielder Nathan Aide and center fielder Adam LaRock are among the players who have yet to decide.
The WolfPack overcame a season-ending injury to outfielder Cam Cratic, a former Madison East athlete, and Trebian has filled the one major positional question mark by becoming the team’s primary catcher.
Trebian, who hadn’t played catcher until his senior season at La Follette, spent last season as an understudy to Logan Michaels. The heart and soul of the WolfPack’s 2018 run to the World Series, Michaels is now starting at Virginia.
“I think last year helped a lot,” Trebian said. “I learned a lot from Logan.”
The WolfPack have only lost three times since returning home from an 11-game trip to Arizona in March. The program won three consecutive Division III World Series titles in the 1990s and is looking for its first since moving up to Division II, but Trebian said there hasn’t been much talk about making history.
“Our main goal is just going game by game,” said Trebian, mindful of the fact that an early loss in the double-elimination will send the WolfPack into the loser’s bracket and test their pitching depth. “We’re just focused on winning the first game, and then moving on to the next one.”