Varsity Baseball | June 30, 2023

The Times 2023 Player of the Year: Josh Adamczewski is a hot commodity getting hotter – David P. Funk Jun 30, 2023 – Photo By: Jeffrey D. Nicholls, The Times

ST. JOHN — Josh Adamczewski was a known commodity in Northwest Indiana baseball over the last two years. Coaches — both inside and outside Lake Central’s dugout — heap praise on the Indians senior third baseman.

But there’s a thought that outside the area, he doesn’t get the respect he deserves. More than one baseball person believes Ball State is getting a steal in Adamczewski.

“I feel like some people have higher expectations of me but some don’t have any,” he said. “I know I’m a good hitter. I like to hear that people think I’m a good hitter.”

Adamczewski spent the season reinforcing the opinions of Region baseball people. He’s the Times Player of the Year.

“Obviously, (being recognized) is going to bring a good rep to you but you don’t work for the awards. You work for a goal of winning state and playing for your team,” he said. “They’re good to have but you don’t work for them in the moment.”

Plate discipline is one thing that separated Adamczewski from the pack. He simply doesn’t give in and is perfectly comfortable taking a walk, as he did 35 times this season en route to a .632 on-base percentage.

“For a high school kid, he’s got an uncanny ability to not swing at pitches that a lot of high school kids would swing at,” coach Mike Swartzentruber said. “I’m not just talking about curveballs in the dirt or fastballs above the letters. I’m talking about fastballs at the thighs, two inches off the corner, especially early in the count. He really makes pitchers come to him.”

When those pitchers do come to him, though, he’s adept at getting a barrel on the ball. His bat is quick and he’s strong.

Swartzentruber said, to keep players on the ball, he sometimes mixes things up while throwing batting practice — breaking balls, changing speed or location. It really doesn’t matter with Adamczewski, though.

“Curveball down and in, he’ll hit it hard. Fastball down and away, he’ll hit it hard. Fastball down the middle, he’ll hit it to the softball field,” Swartzentruber said. “He hits average pitching, elite pitching. He can get a bunt down or execute a hit-and-run. He’s good with two strikes. He uses the whole field. He’s just a complete hitter.”

That talent is starting to be noticed by outsiders. Adamczewski is committed to play for Ball State but worked out for a few MLB teams recently. He may be drafted at some point. Swartzentruber said he’s got the work ethic to be a pro.

“My plan is to go to college, to study exercise science and play baseball,” Adamczewski said. “I hope to get drafted after that but if that doesn’t end up working out, I’ll be a physical therapist.”

His physique makes obvious the work he’s done in the weight room. He thinks his arm strength and speed benefitted from that. His core is stronger, too.

Adamczewski also made some changes to his swing, notably simplifying his legs and feet. The left-handed hitter makes minimal movement with his right foot and gets his power from his hips and shoulders.

“In the beginning of the year, I was hitting the ball well but I felt like I was really long to the ball, creating an inside-out swing,” he said. “I made my lower half a two-strike approach all the time, basically. I’m not worrying too much about what’s going on down low, working on just firing the hands and getting them and the hips through.”

He finished the year hitting .489 with nine home runs and 56 RBIs for an OPS of 1.682. He didn’t come by those stats cheaply, either.

Lake Central plays as difficult a schedule as probably anyone in the state. The Indians see the best pitchers in the Duneland Athletic Conference, but also play Penn and the top programs from the Indianapolis suburbs. They travel to Kentucky for games against some of that state’s best.

Adamczewski hit them all.

“I feel like I’m a gap-to-gap guy instead of a big power, strikeout guy. I like to limit strikeouts,” he said. “I hate strikeouts. You’ve got to make the defense work for what they get.”

Adamczewski did that, only striking out nine times in 125 plate appearances.

“Coach Swartz, the thing he preaches as soon as you get here is the two-strike approach. It’s an everyday thing at practice,” he said. “He beats it into you.”

Adamczewski didn’t get a lot to hit in the postseason, though. He walked five times in four playoff games and was pitched around in most of his other plate appearances.

“He really got on a roll there toward the tail end of the year and just showed everybody what an elite hitter was,” Swartzentruber said. “We had other guys who were capable but he was the guy they weren’t going to let beat them.”

LC’s season came down to just that type of scenario. Adamczewski was intentionally walked to load the bases with no outs in the seventh inning of a semistate game against Penn. Hunter Snyder singled in one run but the Indians lost 7-6.

It was the second time in two years the Indians suffered a season-ending loss in a close game with Kingsmen. Penn went on to win the Class 4A state title in both seasons.

It still hurts, Adamczewski said. It probably always will. That won’t be the only thing he remembers about his team, though.

“I still think about that game to this day, how it ended,” Adamczewski said. “Playing with these guys, it’s a family. We do everything together. We’re with each other six days out of seven. We see each other in school and after that we hang out, goof off, play golf, play poker. I’ll miss that.”

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