With 2021-2022 season concluded, LRSC Baseball ready to establish higher benchmark

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal

DEVILS LAKE – To best define Lake Region State’s 2021-2022 baseball campaign, it is necessary to rewind the clocks for a brief minute. 

Lake Region State's 2021-22 season has come to an end.

Instead of shivering in the crisp North Dakota weather March usually had to offer, the Lake Region State Baseball team instead decided to bask in the ever-warming Tucson, Arizona climate. And, of course, play a baseball game or two (or, in this case, four) while they were at it. 

And so, the stage was set. In the second of two games on March 15, the Royals took to the diamond against Madison College as part of the Tucson Invitational. Heading into the contest, Madison College was ranked as the No. 2 team in the nation among all NJCAA Division II baseball teams, behind only Louisiana State University Eunice. 

In other words, the game looked to be a challenge from the perspective of the Royals. 

No matter. 

A back-and-forth, extra-inning affair that inevitably saw each team combine for 14 runs, 22 hits and seven errors inevitably saw the Royals prevail, 8-6. 

And so, the Royals not only came away with a quality win but a marquee benchmark that provided an invaluable in-game lesson they could take into conference play when that would eventually pick up. 

“I mean, people ask all the time about the game, and I don’t really know how to explain it,” Lake Region State Baseball head coach Jonathan Lund said. “We just went out there, and they worked so hard, and I think they just did all of those little things right that we kind of search for, and we were super pumped to come out of there with an extra-innings win against the best of the best.” 

Of course, the first-year head coach in Lund understood the ups and downs of a baseball season. After a successful showing in the Tucson Invitational – the Royals went 3-1 during the trip – highlighted the up, and the eight-game losing streak that followed emphasized the down. Then, Mother Nature forced the Royals indoors for more than three weeks (nine Lake Region State games were either postponed or canceled between April 11-26). 

Again, no matter. 

To Lund, his message to the team remained the same: compete, compete and, you guessed it, compete, no matter the circumstance. 

“Even when we had to be inside during that time, we still got in the cages and threw live against each other,” Lund said. “[We] did a lot of hitting competitions and drills and fielding stuff. Obviously, it is not quite the same as being able to do it out on a dirt field and stuff, but it doesn’t change for us. All the time, we want guys, whether indoors [or] outdoors, we are showing up to practice, and we are getting to work.”

Although the Royals finished the 2022 campaign with a sub.-500 record (11-18, 2-10), Lund believes the team made strides in certain areas that will seep into next year’s makeup and mindset. 

With a continued emphasis on competing and improving during games or at practice, Lund believes returning players and newcomers alike will open the August practice slate with a sharper mind and even keener drive to hit the ground running. Lund thinks his team will push through even when adversity kicks in should this mindset remain strong. 

“I just want to keep us improving in every little facet of the game,” Lund said. “The guys coming back next year obviously are sophomores [and] will help mold the new freshmen coming in [and] help them understand really how I am as a head coach and what I expect on a day-to-day basis, kind of how things are going to be…Continuing to keep bringing the energy, the competitive mindset [and] all that kind of stuff that I like to preach about.”

As the offseason begins to kick into full throttle, the Royals will look back at their 2022 record not with short-term contempt but with the long-term realization that, like anything else, patience is vital. If it paid off during the team’s stretch against the top-flight competition in Tucson, then it can undoubtedly show itself again. Sure, there might be growing pains along the way, of course, and Lund understands as such. 

No matter, however. 

“So, that’s what I want to keep building and improving on,” Lund said. “Some days, it’s tough when it’s 30 degrees, and you are going out trying to play games. Sometimes, it’s hard to have that fire and energy, but just finding a way…for us, it comes down to the mental piece of things to dig deep and still give the fire and energy no matter what the circumstances are. So, that is one thing for us we want to keep improving on and keep doing.” 

John Crane is a sports/general assignment reporter for the Devils Lake Journal. Feel free to contact John via work phone (701-922-1372), cell  phone (701-230-4339), email (jcrane@gannett.com) or Twitter (@johncranesports) with any story ideas.