After wrapping up his baseball career at St. Cloud Apollo, T.J. Frericks was fairly certain he would continue to play the game he loves collegiately in the Upper Midwest.
Bemidji State, Minnesota-Duluth and Wisconsin-La Crosse all showed varing degrees of interest and they all seemed like logical fits for the senior left-hander, as did Southeastern Community College in Burlington, Iowa.
Wabash Valley, a two-year school in Mount Carmel, Ill., kept calling.
“I figured I owed them a visit,” Frericks said.
Frericks came away impressed.
That’s why he gave the Division I junior college program a verbal commitment for a baseball scholarship. He is headed to the 1,300-enrollment school in August to play for head coach Rob Fournier.
The Warriors went 46-16 last spring and have had 10 players move on from that squad to play at four-year schools, including Western Kentucky, Cincinnati, Purdue, Arkansas, South Alabama and Ohio.
“After I saw it, I said to my dad, ‘I’d be crazy not to take him (Fournier) up on his offer,'” Frericks said. “I’m really blessed with this offer.”
Wabash Valley, a 13-hour drive from St. Cloud, discovered Frericks through an on-line recruiting service he put his profile on through his play on the Minnesota Starz travel team he has played on. The Starz, located in the Twin Cities, played in national tournaments and Frericks was a pitcher.
Also helping matters is that Frericks, who also plays for the Watkins Clippers amateur baseball team, has a Watkins teammate who played last spring at Wabash Valley.
Matt Geislinger, also a left-handed pitcher, spent his sophomore season pitching for the Warriors. He was the team’s stopper and had a great season and experience, going 5-0 with five saves in 27 appearances with a 3.40 ERA. He struck out 56 in 472⁄3innings.
“Matt told me: ‘You’ve got to call this guy back,”’ Frericks said.
Frericks did. About a month ago, he went for a visit with his family. He had a workout/tryout and impressed enough to get an offer.
The coaching staff told him he needed to add velocity to his fastball, but if he did, he would have a chance at a Division I scholarship. Frericks, who is also playing for the Waite Park American Legion baseball team this summer, said he throws in the 78-80 mph range. If he can get it up to the mid-80s, he could advance because he has a variety of good pitches with good movement.
“I have really good confidence and belief in myself and my abilities,” said Frericks, who is thinking about becoming a social studies teacher and getting into coaching.
Frericks went 4-3 this spring for Apollo, striking out 43 and walking eight in 491⁄3innings with a 2.70 ERA. His last appearance for Waite Park was a 2-0 complete-game shutout over Mahtomedi in the Rochester Firecracker Tournament. He struck out eight and walked none.
Mount Carmel has about 7,200 residents and is located on the Indiana border near Kentucky. Wabash Valley also has men’s and women’s basketball, softball and cheerleading teams at the Division I junior college level. It’s a team that perennially contends for the Division I JUCO World Series.
Frericks realizes it will be a huge challenge.
“I’m really excited,” Frericks said. “I’m really excited for this opportunity. It’s a long way away, way down south. But I’d be crazy not to take it up and see what I can do.”