VIRGINIA — One of Dietrich Friebe’s coaches helped him adjust his batting stance early this year and the Virginia senior has used that to his advantage.
In last week’s pair of games, the 17-year-old had key hits as the Blue Devils downed Nashwauk-Keewatin 5-2 Tuesday and staged a huge comeback Thursday to slip by E-G, 13-12.
Friebe’s adjustment of his front foot in his batting stance has definitely been the key to his success.
“I fixed that and it really helped a lot this year,’’ he said Friday at practice.
“Coach (Brian) Wilson really helped me out with my stance,’’ he said, and all of the coaches have made a difference. “They just helped me with all my hitting.’’
Virginia is 4-1 so far this season and Friebe has gone 6-for-14 at the plate (.428) with one home run and seven RBI. He has also walked twice and scored four runs.
What has also helped him improve over last year?
“Just a lot of practice,’’ Friebe said. “A lot of work in the cages just really helps out.’’
In previous years, “I wasn’t hitting as much in the cages. I just stepped it up this year I guess and really focused on hitting.’’
“His confidence has just exploded,’’ head coach Brian Skadsem said. The third baseman and pitcher is now look looking for a specific pitch and not just swinging at the first ball thrown. “He’s just looking for his pitch and putting the bat on the ball consistently.’’
That has been a bit of a change since last spring.
“If he was swinging the bat early and making good contact, he was successful’’ last season, Skadsem said. “If he was later in the count, sometimes he was unsure of himself.
“Now this year, it doesn’t matter where he’s at in the count. He’s pretty much ready for a pitch it seems like.’’
The Blue Devils have been in a few close games this season and Friebe believes that is a good thing. “It’s good to have the experience in the close games. It will help us perform better under pressure.’’
The senior also hopes that experience will help Virginia achieve its season goals, which included making a run in the playoffs.
“I think the goal for the players is just to make it to state,’’ he said. “Just make a good run in the playoffs. That’d be awesome, especially if we could go all the way to state that would be sweet. That’s the goal.’’
Friebe has been playing organized baseball with a lot of his teammates since he was seven.
“A lot of these guys I’ve played with all my life.’’
He actually started in the sport even before that.
“My grandpa (Randy Lehman) started me off,’’ Friebe said. “He helped me when I was younger hitting me grounders’’ in his yard.
Although he plays basketball too, baseball is definitely his favorite. He said he likes to be outside and in the warmth, plus “it’s fun.’’
Friebe started out as a shortstop before making his way to third base, which he now likes better.
Skadsem said Friebe has a strong arm and a good glove.
“You have to have a strong arm I guess. It’s a long throw.’’
He doesn’t mind playing the “hot corner’’ and being relatively close to the hitters.
“There can be some hard hits over there so you have to be ready.’’
Friebe has seen a few balls come directly at him at warp speed, too.
“A couple shots,’’ he said, “but I catch most of them.’’
As a pitcher, Skadsem said Friebe started a number of games as a junior and is now in the rotation.
“He throws a number of pitches. He throws a very good fastball. He throws a nice changeup and then he’s got a good curveball that he can throw either for a strike or for a ball so it does keep batters off balance in terms of they’re not sure what his best pitch may be.’’
Friebe had good success as a junior last year, which has carried over into 2016.
“He’s starting to blossom as a senior for us,’’ Skadsem said.