Jason Dietrich knew this first-year head coaching thing would exude a proverbial learning experience. But around every corner, every moment, every day, there’s something hanging around that needs to be dealt with or needs attention, like a stubborn 3-year-old.
That explains why Dietrich graciously ordered his assistants and staff to disappear once his first season in charge of Cal State’s Fullerton baseball program was in the history books. He took his own advice and returned to North Carolina to visit family.
“It’s like drinking from a fire hose,” said Dietrich, of North Carolina, as he reflects on his first year in big baseball with the Titans.
This colorful description holds up, Dietrich continued.
“Recruiting staff, addressing admissions issues, housing, meeting people, making sure they’re handling issues academically, the assessment process,” Dietrich said. “Now we can implement more of what we think is the right thing to do to get everyone moving in the direction we want them to go in. Those are things we have to deal with and now that we have a full year, it’s easier to have a game plan. There is no one A million things happened to us. Now, we have our system, so to speak. You name it, we have it all in our profile, we’ve broken down everything to make sure we cover it .”
You’ll notice it’s not prominently featured on Dietrich’s list of responsibilities: coaching. That role, when he handed the keys to Cal State Fullerton’s Ferrari Sports program, was tasked with having his own set of courses, and when Dietrich built award-winning pitching as a pitching coach, he never Have not studied these courses. in CSUF, Oregon and East Carolina.
“What did I learn? I learned a lot,” he said. “I learned how to wear different hats. Being a head coach is very different from being a pitching coach. Communicating with the whole team, working with everyone on campus, there are different hats. With our trainers, our Facility staff work collaboratively to handle equipment and ensure academic work is there in charge. …
“Just being able to balance them. You’re talking about my work hat and my life hat. You have to balance so many hats, and I have to make sure I can balance them.”
With this balancing act, Dietrich really puts on the coach’s hat. That hat went 22-33 overall and 14-16 in the Big West. The Titans finished in an unusual seventh, looking up to their two main rivals: Long Beach State in fifth and UC Irvine in sixth, largely because of Dietrich The moment he got the keys last summer, he knew there was a problem waiting for him.
While the CSUF’s 289 runs are eighth in the conference, that’s no offense. But the Titans have the third-best team batting average in the Big West (0.278 team batting average). They fielded Big West batting champion Austin Schell, who leads the league with a .382 batting average while second in batting average (0.557) and OPS (1.011) and is second in on-base percentage (0.454) ranked third.
The CSUF’s only first-team All-League selection, Schell became the Titans’ ninth conference batting champion and first since Mitchell Berryhill in 2019. Dietrich accused Schell of not doing more, saying it took him longer than he should have realized that Schell’s bat was invaluable.
The same goes for Caden Connor’s. The sophomore hit .327 and led the Titans with 37 RBIs and 42 runs and 4 home runs and 14 doubles.
The problem is not effort. Dietrich repeatedly marveled at the Titans’ focus on getting to the final inning, even though it was clear the playoffs weren’t waiting. In the final series of the season, they took two-thirds from UC Irvine.
Do not. The Titans’ problem is what Dietrich expects: pitching. Cal State Fullerton’s 5.20 team ERA is seventh in the conference. With the Titans not returning to start the weekend, Dietrich had to build a team from scratch. Having lost his Friday starter — usually the team’s ace — Christian Rodriguez midway through the season, Tommy John underwent surgery, complicating Dietrich’s job.
“We have to grow and let them solve problems,” Dietrich said. “Normally, Fullerton has a system that’s always pitching. But our staff left all weekend. That’s the most important thing: There’s a lot of inexperience on the mound. We’ve got to be patient and let them play. own ability.”
That patience brought some surprises. Like the second-team plenary pick Tyler Stultz, he inherited Friday night’s duties from Rodriguez and turned it into a 3.36 ERA and 86 strikeouts in 88.1 innings. 5 wins and 5 losses. He finished the season with 11 strikeouts and 8.1 innings against UC Irvine. There were also surprises like Fynn Chester (3-1, 2.30 ERA), who moved from the bullpen in time to Sunday’s starting duties, allowing only 3s in 25.2 innings as a starter.
“Taylor Stultz is an unscrupulous man,” Dietrich said. “To get a starting job on Friday night, you’re facing someone else’s ace. He’s doing a good job. He’s fighting. His mentality and competitiveness have helped him.”
Given Dietrich’s proverbial magic in handling pitchers, if the Titans have a problem, they have the right guy with the right hat to fix it. He has already made a splash on transfer portals and plans to work harder on recruiting when he returns to California.
“It’s all summer. There’s a lot going on, summer dances,” he said.
He will have a lot of vacancies. Dietrich and his staff conducted exit interviews with each player before they went on vacation. Not interviewing as many people as he did when he arrived last summer. Dietrich said he started last fall with 43 players. When the season ended with a 9-3 win over UC Irvine on May 28, 20 players remained.
Some of the remaining 20 players won’t be coming back, either through graduation or through what Dietrich calls “some really tough conversations.” The dialogue ends with Dietrich telling the player that they’d better go to another program. When he arrived, he vowed to evaluate every player from day one. These assessments go beyond the field, into the classroom, into the approach they take in preparing for the practice, and the exercise. Everything is in play.
“We said we’re going to do what we think is best for the project,” he said. “Everything counts. … We want to make sure we get it right in every aspect of the project. We feel like some people have to move on because they don’t fit where we want to be and where we’re going place.”
Accomplishing this unpleasant task, Dietrich received plenty of nourishment in his first year from the fire hose that came with coaching the West Coast’s premier baseball program. He knows how to balance hats and when to put them on and set aside other hats. A look back at the big picture of his first year reveals the rebuilding problems of the first year.
These are very repairable.
“We were injured and people moved on. We were dealing with a lot of things throughout the year,” he said. “But everyone has them and you have to get over them. We give our players a lot of chances and sometimes, they’re not ready. They fail and you have to put them out there because you don’t have any other options. They Failing that, you try to help them and keep them confident, but this game can confuse a lot of 18- to 23-year-olds.
“We don’t have a lot of experience at the Division 1 level. You want them to grow up sooner, which is easier said than done. That’s where you feel bad because unfortunately you want them to learn but you always let them Stuck. Some people can handle them, some people can’t, we have to deal with it.”
did you know…? The Titans went 8-13 in one game and 10-16 in two.
He says: Jason Dietrich on what he looks for when recruiting pitchers: “You look for people who can compete at a high level. You look at the projections, their backgrounds, their makeup You want them to throw at least two pitches for a strike. If you can get more out of them, you plan. There are people we trust who talk to us and someone will tell us, ‘This guy is a Bulldog. “We look for people who are not afraid of competition and who can handle adversity. We are always fishing, always collecting names and doing our homework.”