Illini baseball Kirscheiper receives freshman All-American honor


Photo Courtesy of Fighting Illini Athletics

Freshman Pitcher Cole Kirschsieper throws a pitch during competition.

By Rich Eberwein, Staff Writer

Last Tuesday, Collegiate Baseball released its list of Freshmen All-Americans from the 2020 baseball season. Among the outstanding performances on the season was Illinois pitcher Cole Kirscheiper, who was one of 18 freshmen starting pitchers to be named on the list.

Over four appearances in his inaugural campaign, Kirscheiper posted a 1.35 ERA while striking out 12 in 20 innings pitched. The lefty is the 14th freshman in Illinois history to be named an All-American, the most recent since former Illini infielder Michael Massey received the honor in 2017.

“It was pretty remarkable to see that the other day, and I’m honored,” Kirscheiper said about his recognition. “But I give credit to my teammates and coaches, of course, because they have a high expectation for each and every player, each and every day. What we live by is getting one percent better every day. That includes the classroom, the field and practice.”

Kirscheiper was born on December 27, 2000, and has three sisters. A native of Frankfort, Illinois, Kirscheiper attended high school at Lincoln-Way East, where he was a three-year letter winner, broke nine school records and was named the No. 2 left-handed pitcher in Illinois by Prep Baseball Report prior to attending Illinois.

In addition to playing for his high school, Kirscheiper threw for the Cangelosi Sparks where he was joined by future Illini teammates Branden Comia, Ty Rybarczyk and Cam McDonald. The camaraderie on the Illini baseball team began to shine as the season progressed and wins came up in close games.

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“We started off slow and lost to some teams that we thought we could have beaten,” Kirscheiper said. “I feel like after the Frisco weekend, we started to go. It was definitely the changing point. We won against top competition in the country, guys you don’t see on a regular basis. They were close games that made the practice that we’d prepared weeks before matter. I feel like we could have gone far this year.”

Illinois pitching coach Mark Allen has been in communication with Illini pitchers during the COVID-19 pandemic and continues to send workouts over text. Kirscheiper and his fellow pitchers continue to work on their mechanics and send video to Allen for his thoughts on improvement.

The Illinois baseball team will be young next year and hope to retain their ace, Ty Weber, as well as closer Garrett Acton. Both players were seniors last season and will have the option of returning next year. If they choose not to, Kirscheiper’s role will be even larger in the starting pitcher equation. Head coach Dan Hartleb tentatively plans for the team to return to campus 14 days prior to the beginning of classes.  Whether the University will allow students back in the fall is still unknown.


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