July 27, 2023
By David Nordby
The Brillion News
Please see the complete version of this story in the July 27, 2023 print edition of The Brillion News.
Adam Diedrich was no stranger to being a star pitcher while on the mound in high school for Hilbert-Stockbridge.
The 2020 Hilbert High School graduate had 72 strikeouts as a junior and was a Wisconsin Baseball Coaches Association all-district honorable mention, first team all-conference selection and the team’s most valuable pitcher. Offensively, he batted .448, scored 19 times, had 13 RBI, two home runs and 14 stolen bases.
His talents took him to Augustana University in Sioux Falls, S.D. to pitch for the Vikings. After a redshirt freshman season in 2021, he debuted as a reliever in 2022. He recorded 26 strikeouts in 20 innings across 17 games. He finished the season with a 2-0 record.
That was just the start of Diedrich’s Division II collegiate career.
This past season, Diedrich’s name was at the top of the national board. He led the country in Division 2 saves with 14. He broke the single season saves record for Augstana (the previous record was 11). The right-hander pitched 32 innings across 26 games with 35 strikeouts and was credited with a 3-1 record. Diedrich was named first team all-conference, first team all-central region and second team all-American as a relief pitcher.
The season culminated in early June in the NCAA Division II baseball tournament in Cary, N.C.
National Baseball Tournament
Diedrich saw action as a reliever in both of Augustana’s games in the national tournament. The Vikings lost 4-1 to North Greenville on June 4 and to Southern New Hampshire 10-6 on June 6.
Despite the losses in the double elimination tournament, it was a memorable experience in Diedrich’s baseball career.
“The field itself is amazing to play on. It’s probably the best field that I’ve played on in my life, so that was pretty cool. The atmosphere is cool, just being down there,” Diedrich said.
Augustana was one of eight teams in the tournament.
“Seeing all the guys around and watching all of the games that are going on is pretty cool, so it was a great experience,” Diedrich said.
High school to college
Diedrich, 21, was a standout in Hilbert, but now at the Division II level every batter he faces as a reliever is also a high-level player.
“When I got to school, you just notice that everybody can play a little bit. In high school, some teams might have one guy who’s decent or pretty good, but at the college level it’s everybody can play,” Diedrich said.
Diedrich embraced the competition immediately.
“I love competing, so I wasn’t scared or nervous of any of that. As soon as I got there, I just felt like I belonged right away,” Diedrich said. “Some guys might have a little pressure to do well or stuff like that, but I kind of just go out there and play and let whatever happens happen, so there wasn’t much of an adjustment that I made headed into college.”
During his redshirt freshman season, he recognized that his role on the team would be in relief.
“We have a lot of really good pitchers on our team and our starters were all upperclassmen, so they were all returning, so that was kind of settled already,” Diedrich said.
In high school, Diedrich would start or finish a game depending on the pitch count limitations.
“You don’t throw as many pitches on a given outing, but you pitch more often so you’ve just gotta make sure your arm can withstand throwing every two-three days, which has probably been the biggest adjustment but it hasn’t been too been difficult for me so far,” he said.
As a reliever, Diedrich has stepped into games at critical junctures.
“I actually prefer coming into games. I don’t know what it is, I like pitching in the biggest moments of games, so I actually enjoy it a lot. It’s something different, you get to pitch more often. I like going to the field when we have games and there’s always a chance I’ll throw. Id didn’t have many off days, so I kind of like the thought of being able to pitch every day even though it’s not going to happen. That’s probably my favorite part about it is having the chance to pitch in as many games as possible,” Diedrich said.