Coal Ridge had never seen a baseball player continue their playing career in college.
A shortstop who’s 5-foot-6, depending on who you ask, wasn’t supposed to be the one to break the glass ceiling. Jared Lund’s height is too often the first thing people notice. Opposing fans, players and even recruiters have talked about it. They’ve even used it to discount his talent.
The thing detractors don’t see is the work that Lund has put in, dating all the way back to fifth grade. He’s played above his age group nearly every year. When the player pool went from middle schoolers to high schoolers, he even won the starting shortstop gig as a freshman.
Now he’s committed to Minnesota West Community & Technical College. Awaiting him are at least four players vying for the same position. He’ll have to overcome them with a year off dragging him back.
It doesn’t matter.
“I’ve always loved being the underdog,” Lund said. “That just makes you hungry. That makes me want to prove people wrong. There’s nothing I can do about my height, about my size really, but what I can change is my attitude towards the game and how I choose to play.”
In just his first season, Lund put together a .340 batting average and .485 on-base percentage in 19 games. The latter tally was the lowest he put up in three years as the Titans’ voice in the infield and leadoff hitter.
He also pitched, and well. Lund had a 3.62 earned run average in 77.1 innings across 27 appearances for the club.
Lund did anything he could to help the team.
“He’s a guy that leads the cheers at the end of the game, he leads the stretching,” Titans’ head coach Dan Larsen said. “He’ll call people out if they’re not working as well.”
At one point, Lund even had to call himself out. After taking an accelerated class as a junior, he became ineligible because of the grades he was earning. All the while, he was dealing with problems at home – mainly the divorce of his parents.
The cancelled senior season will affect both his road into college and his road out of high school.
“My junior year was a tough year for me,” Lund said. “Having all of these new problems to deal with, I wasn’t the most motivated I’ve been. Now that I don’t get a senior year of baseball, it’s overwhelming. I ended my career on a year I wouldn’t have wanted.
“I had the entire offseason of baseball and I wanted to come back and be the player that everyone looked up to.”
Helping Lund has been his father, Glen. Glen was the assistant coach at Coal Ridge dating back to Jared’s eighth grade year and coached him in Little League since his time on the region’s All-Star team.
“The age thing, at the beginning, was really about opportunity,” Glen said. “He made the All-Stars and he was the youngest of the kids on that team – he wasn’t going to play. When you get to play with older kids, I feel you get better because you’re playing up. You’re not stagnant. You don’t think you’re the better player, so you have to work harder.”
Going into college, Jared faces a similar situation.
At Minnesota West, the roster is large. Jared will once again be one of the youngest in a large pool of players.
Now that he’s on to a bigger and better team, Jared is excited for the opportunity to compete against guys with a similar drive.
“I’m excited for the chemistry of the team,” Jared said. “In high school, a lot of kids play the sport just to play the sport – they don’t really care for the game like I do. I’m just excited because all of these kids have worked to get to the college level. They enjoy it, they love the game.
“I love the competition.”