Love of the game

Passion is a characteristic that you can find in nearly every athlete.

But when it comes to softball, it’s probably safe to say, you won’t find a more passionate athlete than Bishop Ryan junior catcher Hailee Jundt.

“She loves the game,” Ryan coach Julie Stewart said. “She is constantly learning and trying to get better. She is really passionate.”

Jundt’s love for the sport began at a young age.

“I started playing tee-ball when I was in kindergarten,” Jundt said. “I wanted to keep playing it, so I grew up with it.”

Once at Ryan she quickly acended the ladder and has been playing at the varsity level since seventh grade.

“There’s a lot of stress,” Jundt said. “You have to know everything that’s going on. There’s a lot of communication.”

And this year, Jundt has anchored a very young pitching staff, consisting of junior Emma Garber, sophomore Eden Kramer and eighth-grader Annika Stewart.

Garber is the most experienced pitcher of the three, and she only pitched in four games last season.

“You got to know what pitches to call and where to hit them,” Jundt said.

Managing young arms is only half of what Jundt deals with each and every game.

She says the toughest part about her position is not being able to do more from her spot on the diamond

“Sitting back and letting others do the work.” she said.

This summer Jundt will participate in a traveling all-star team out of Minneapolis that will allow her to showcase her talents, and help her become a better all-around player.

“This is a good opportunity for her (to get better),” Stewart said. “These aren’t just teams, they are all-star teams.”

But in the mean time, Jundt is hoping to help lead the Lions back to the state tournament. And while the team lost a few key players to graduation last season, Jundt is impressed with what she’s seeing from the newcomers.

“We are doing really good,” she said. “We’ve got quite a few new players in key positions.”

Over the years, Jundt has received her share of bumps and bruises as a result of playing catcher, but nothing series.

“I’ve been hit a bunch of times,” she said. “But I just shake it off.”

Even in Saturday’s doubleheader against Dickinson, Jundt was experiencing problems with her back. In most instances, a player in Jundt’s circumstance would have been pulled from the lineup. Not Jundt. She managed to play through the pain and help her team secure a split with one of the top teams in the West Region.

On the season, Jundt is batting .370 with four doubles, two triples and a home run, and has an on-base percentage of .445.

Jundt hopes the all-star team and her senior season can set the table for her playing collegiate softball.

“I am hoping to play at the next level,” she said. “We’ll see what happens with that.”

As for the remainder of this season, Jundt says her team needs to keep it simple.

“Remember our fundamentals,” she said. “We will be successful if we play like we did in the (2-1 win over previously unbeaten Dickinson on Saturday).”

Mark Jones covers high school sports and general assignments. Follow him on Twitter @hoopsfan27_MDN.