Josh Lund is a second-year history major – but when he’s not hitting the books at Ryerson, he’s on the field as the Rams’ star third baseman.
“I hadn’t played baseball in eight years until last year,” Lund said.
His return to the game coincided with Ryerson’s inaugural baseball season. The team had a disappointing record of 3-19, and is just now starting up practices for the upcoming season, which begins in September.
Before that, the Salmon Arm, B.C., native was playing semi-professional hockey in the U.S. His dad also spent his college years on skates. Lund calls his dad “an inspiration.”
“My father, growing up as a kid, he was a big baseball guy … I picked up the ball by the time I was three,” Lund said.
Off the field, “Lundo,” as his teammates like to call him, lives with teammate Ben Warsh. “He’s an all-around good guy,” his roommate says of him. “He’s always got a smile on his face.”
According to Warsh, the left-handed hitter is a sparkplug for some of his quieter teammates. On the bench, he helps keep everyone engaged and shouts words of encouragement to his teammates.
Baseball head coach Ben Rich says, “There’s ways to help the team even if you’re not in the game.” For instance, Lund always has his head up, often calling out pick-off attempts, and reading the other team’s signs.
Rich says the Rams elected not to choose captains, instead hoping the players would self-police and leaders would emerge.
“Even though (last year was) everybody’s first year, (Lund) carries himself as more of a veteran. (He’s) been around baseball for a little bit longer than some of the other guys,” Rich said. Rich also says Lund’s leadership will help the team on the field this season, where the Rams hope to stay around the .500 mark.
According to Rich, Lund always hustles on the field. In the dugout, he makes sure that conversations remain focused on baseball. Now in the second year of the Ryerson baseball program, the team is beginning to emulate the personality of its new leader.
“We’ve got a really good group of guys,” Lund said. “Last year, it was more of just a group of guys coming out on the field and playing baseball together. This year, we’re more of an actual team.
The camaraderie is there, the guys are more comfortable with each other. It’s going to be a huge difference.”
This year, the baseball team hopes to make the playoffs.
Lund is coming off a season in which he led the Rams in batting average (.373), on-base percentage (.475) and RBIs (11), while playing in 21 of the team’s 22 games. An improved and more experienced lineup could help Lund put up even better stats in 2014.
In addition, the Rams have three potential recruits lined up – two high-school players waiting on their acceptance letters from Ryerson and one college student.
Next week, the team will host a college player from Texas, who may transfer to Ryerson. “We are a serious program, and players are taking note of that,” Rich said.
Individual success would be nice, but Lund and the coaching staff are mainly focused on team results. Rich says the plan last year was simply to get the program off the ground. This time, the Rams are serious about putting up wins.
“Our first game ever, we beat a team that makes the playoffs. At the end of the year, we beat Brock, who wound up finishing the regular season in first place. So we have the ability,” Rich said.
Originally, the goal was to make the playoffs within three to five years, but both Lund and the coach think they can reach that goal by next year.
“It’s definitely possible for us to make the playoffs … I have no doubt about that,” Rich says, “We won’t be happy until we bring home that OUA trophy.”