JOLIET – A month ago, she was named Chicagoland Collegiate Athletic Conference Pitcher of the Year. In June, she added CoSIDA College Division Academic All-America Second Team, NFCA NAIA All-American Second-Team and NFCA NAIA All-Great Lakes Region First-Team honors to her growing resume.
On June 7, Morghan Dieringer earned her biggest accolade to date. The junior became the fourth player in University of St. Francis program history to be named to the NAIA Softball All-America First Team and the first USF player to earn the distinction in 20 years.
And there’s only more to come in her senior season.
“Morghan had a phenomenal year. She’s a great competitor,” coach Amanda Jensen said. “My nickname for her is the quiet competitor. She is so focused, driven and dialed in during practices and competitions. She does a great job in being able to be consistent on the field, which plays a big part in helping the defenders playing behind her.
“She played a big role in the success of our season in the way that she approached her practices and games. She challenged her teammates, and they challenged her. It was a really great year in where everyone was pulling for each other, and that transferred to a great, successful season on the field.”
Dieringer and her teammates’ strong performances helped the Saints finish with a 43-7 record, and CCAC regular-season and tournament titles. The 43 wins tied the school record.
Dieringer, a Lincoln-Way West graduate, ranked sixth in the nation in saves (four) and eighth in both wins (26) and ERA (0.99). She tossed 10 shutouts and had 236 strikeouts in her 27 games and 26 complete-game efforts. Her 26-6 record and .813 winning percentage broke the 2004 school record (.793).
On top of her athletic achievements, the nursing major earned a 3.73 GPA.
“She’s definitely focused on wanting to be the best at whatever she does whether it is softball or in her nursing degree,” Jensen said. “She wants to get the best out of herself academically to put herself in a good position to have a great career. It’s the same with softball. She wants to get the best out of herself to put her team in the best position to win.
“A great quality that Morghan has is that she can understand the big picture, and she’s really dialed in and focused on what she does. She wants to be great at it, and that contributes to the success that she has had.”
Individual success is great, but it is far from being her main goal. After the obvious initial excitement of being named All-American settled, Dieringer focused on what is important to her.
“When I heard that I am an All-American, I did get excited,” Dieringer said. “I learned about it a week and a half ago and since then, I just brushed it off. My friend texted me to say congratulations and I responded, ‘Thank you, but it doesn’t mean anything because we didn’t go to Florida.’ I’m glad I got the award, but my main goal was not to get All-American. It was to go to the World Series. And we didn’t do that.”
The competitive mentality to consistently improve her game to benefit her team has helped Dieringer from a young age.
After playing in less than 10 games at the sophomore level as a freshman, Dieringer was moved up to the Lincoln-Way West varsity team because the pitcher got injured. She was told her strong work ethic is one of the reasons she stood out among the underclassmen.
For the next four years under coach Heather Novak, Dieringer had a great high school career as a three-time All-SouthWest Suburban Conference honoree. She tallied a 21-2 record and 1.08 ERA as a senior and recorded 252 strikeouts.
Having a mentor early on in high school helped the all-star excel. Dieringer improved her skills with guidance from assistant coach Jack Podlesny.
Developing a strong skill set combined with her selfless but competitive attitude helped the Lincoln-Way West graduate transfer her success to the college level.
After not being satisfied with her play freshman year of college, she worked on improving the pitches she had – curve ball and rise ball – and she added a change-up. She worked on getting stronger and faster with the USF summer training regiment. For next year, she’s going to work on throwing to left-handers.
Part of what drives her to get better is her classmates.
“I get along really well with the class that I came in with,” Dieringer said. “I think between the four of us that we all agree that we were more capable of more than our freshman year. We pushed each other to get to where we are now.”
Going into her senior year, Dieringer’s goal will be to put her team in a position to be successful and reach their goals. According to Jensen, that is the type of selfless player Dieringer is, and it resulted in numerous awards.
The Saints’ goals are not individual ones, however.
Now that they have tied a school record and won the program’s first conference tournament title, the Saints are dedicated to building off last year’s success and taking it one step further.
“Although we we had a good record, we were not happy where we ended,” Dieringer said. “Our main goal was to go to the World Series in Florida, and we were a win short of that. That’s our goal next year.”