03/16/2016 1:39 PM -
Whiting, Ind. – March 16, 2016 – The path to New Mexico Highlands has been a long and winding one for junior pitcher Max Siedlecki.
After stops at two different junior colleges followed by a year away from baseball, Siedlecki is back on the diamond as a member of the Cowboys starting staff.
The 6-foot-4 right-hander from Evanston, Ill. will make another stop on his journey this summer as a member of the Northwest Indiana Oilmen.
Siedlecki has posted a 5.13 ERA in 26 1/3 innings of work at New Mexico Highlands, which is a hitter-friendly location since it is 6,000 feet above sea level. Siedlecki did not participate in college baseball during the 2015 season, taking a year off to focus on work and school.
After a strong career at Evanston Township High School, Siedlecki took his talents to St. Louis Community College. He didn’t receive as much playing time as he wanted during his freshman season, and decided to transfer to Oakton Community College as a sophomore.
Siedlecki thrived at Oakton, before advancing to the D-II level to continue his development under second-year coach Shannon Hunt and associate head coach Mike Marshall, a 10-year major leaguer, at New Mexico Highlands.
Siedlecki is a starter by trade, but expects to throw out of the bullpen this summer. He’s open to embracing whatever role he’s asked to take on.
“I’m trying to improve my velocity,” he said. “I’m working to get it back after not playing baseball for a year. One of my strengths is my changeup, so I’m trying to use that more in 0-2 or 1-2 counts to get batters out.”
Siedlecki received a rude welcoming to the D-II level when he faced three batters in his season debut against Fort Hays State – retiring one, hitting one and yielding a go-ahead eighth-inning home run. However, he’s started to feel more and more like his old self on the mound with each passing outing.
The most memorable game of Siedlecki’s high school baseball career turned out to unexpectedly be his final prep pitching performance. He threw 6 2/3 no-hit innings in Evanston Township’s 1-0 victory over Deerfield.
“I partially tore my labrum in that game,” he said. “I threw a slider and it pinched and it started to really bug me. I kept battling through it because I wasn’t sure what it was. That ended up being my last game pitching in high school.”
Siedlecki played with former Oilman Fred Smart at Oakton. Smart recommended the Oilmen to Siedlecki, who was at one time recruited by Trinity Christian College, where Oilmen manager Adam Enright serves as an assistant coach.
Those factors made the Oilmen a perfect fit for Siedlecki for the coming summer.
“I wanted to get some more competition and play at a higher level this summer to see where things would go for my senior year,” Siedlecki said. “I watched their last playoff game this past summer and I just loved the field; it’s beautiful.”