Oct. 19, 2009
by Jon Cooper
OSR Sting EXTRA
ATLANTA — It may not be the ultimate World Series on his to-do list, but the White and Gold World Series that begins this afternoon is quite important to Derek Dietrich.
“It’s been a tradition here at Georgia Tech,” said Dietrich, the Yellow Jackets shortstop who will play for the White Team for the third straight season with the goal of going 3-0 in the series. “All the guys take it very seriously. Even the coaches. It’s two different teams for three games, then we’ll get back together [as one squad].
“There’s always trash talking. When we go out there, the number one thing is we compete and we have fun. Each team tries to win, but at the end of the day we’re all the Jackets. Hopefully the entire experience brings us closer as a team and helps us develop on the field. It’s an exciting time.”
Adding to his personal excitement is the opportunity to be a more vocal leader. That’s been a recurring theme for Dietrich, one that actually started during the summer, when he played for the Wareham Gatemen of the Cape Cod League.
“One thing he worked on was his leadership skills, his vocal skills, talking to his team and stuff. I saw a lot of that throughout the whole summer,” said pitcher Zach Brewster, his teammate for part of the summer with Wareham. “He’s always been vocal, he’s always been a talker.
“I think as a player he has matured a lot. He always had a hard work ethic. A huge thing is him seeing where his faults are and zoning in and working on those specifically. I think he’s gotten a little more focused. I think he’s grown a good bit the past few years.”
Continuing to grow has been important for Dietrich, who set the bar pretty high in his first season on The Flats.
He was named 2008 National Freshman of the Year and National Freshman Hitter of the Year by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA). For an encore, last season, he became the first Tech shortstop to be named Academic All-America since Nomar Garciaparra in 1994.
Tech coach Danny Hall is encouraged by Dietrich’s year-to-year development, and believes that trend will continue.
“Most of it these days is mental. He’s getting more mature mentally,” Hall said. “He’s always been a strong kid but your talent will only take you so far. You have to see that mental maturity, just knowing the game and just knowing how to play within a game.
“Like a lot of guys, he’s going through the process of growing up and trying to improve each and every time he goes out there,” Hall continued. “He’s done that, and he’s a hard worker, so I’m sure we’ll see him improve even more this year.”
Dietrich took the responsibility of being a leader to heart during fall practice. Victory in The White and Gold World Series would be the perfect exclamation point on the fall. He’s already 2-0 in the Jackets’ fall classic.
“I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to help these younger guys get acclimated to Georgia Tech baseball,” he said. “As a freshman and a sophomore you’re led by the upperclassmen. Now I have the chance to lead the guys on the team and help out my teammates…and get a win for the white squad.”