PORT ANGELES — Port Angeles’ Lauren Lunt will take her well-honed softball swing to Saint Martin’s University softball diamond in Lacey next season.
Lunt, a 2017 Roughrider graduate, recently inked a letter of intent to play for the Saints just weeks after wrapping up her sophomore year and earning her associates’ degree as a Lower Columbia College Red Devil.
“I started talking to coach [Jim] Pete[erson] at Saint Martin’s right at the end of the season and he came to my sophomore night at LCC,” Lunt said. “That added a little more stress but it was nice to see him there. And he came and watched me play at NWAC’s [conference tournament] in Spokane. After that I went on a visit and I absolutely loved it and from there I knew I wanted to become a Saint.”
Saint Martin’s is an NCAA Division II school in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference and competes against schools such as Central Washington, Western Washington and Western Oregon.
“I liked the campus a lot,” Lunt said. “It’s in Lacey, so there’s lots to do but the campus is enclosed, so it doesn’t feel big.”
Lunt also said she was drawn to the school by the professional opportunities she could pursue once her college career is complete.
“I learned a lot on my visit about softball, so I knew if I picked SMU I would be constantly learning about the game and there would be opportunities beyond my two years with the team.
“I would love to coach college softball someday and I think [coach Peterson] has the connections to really help me out there.”
Peterson has prior coaching experience as an assistant at Central Washington, Wright State University and UNLV and has also coached the Canadian Women’s Olympic Softball Team, including in the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics.
“We were looking for players to come in and help us make an immediate impact on our team,” Peterson said of Lunt’s recruitment. “She’s a player we are looking at to help us offensively and to bring that experience with her.
“She has a desire to play softball and be competitive and loves to hit. We are looking for offensive production in the middle of our lineup.
And Peterson is pleased to know Lunt plans to pursue coaching.
“Part of the attraction was her wanting to be a future coach,” Peterson said. “Coming here she can learn a system and a style and a brand of softball that can help her in the future.”
The daughter of Stevens Middle School Principal Kristen Lunt and Port Angeles High School Vice Principal Jeff Lunt, Lunt also is aiming to join the family business.
“Saint Martin’s has an exceptional education program and that’s what I want to go in to,” Lunt said. “Follow in the parents footsteps. So I couldn’t pass up the offer.”
Lunt said she made some “really good friends” at LCC where she got to once again team with Port Angeles’ Nizhoni Wheeler, a pitcher for the Red Devils. Wheeler will play for Northwest Christian in Eugene, Ore. next season.
“It will be hard to leave and go, but I’ll only be 45 minutes away,” Lunt said. “I had a great coaching staff and teammates and I was very fortunate to have that year there.”
The LCC coaching staff also helped her unlock a skill she showed flashes of while in high school.
“I added a new component,” Lunt said. “I added the long ball. I didn’t hit that many home runs in high school but the coaches really helped me and pushed me and showed me what I can do. I had a pretty good year offensively and it was nice for them to support me and show me that I can even when I didn’t think I could [develop into a power hitter].”
Lunt performed well for the Red Devils, hitting .434 with 10 home runs and 51 RBIs in 42 games this past spring.
“My confidence definitely did grow toward the end of the season,” Lunt said. “I was pretty consistent and I’m proud of how I did throughout the season.”
And she recorded those impressive totals while suffering from a torn ulnar collateral ligament in her throwing arm that Lunt believes she injured early in the season.
A torn UCL requires Tommy John surgery for baseball pitchers, but Lunt said she is putting off any such procedure and the year-plus recovery time for now. She wants to play.
“I have a hurt arm and can’t really play catcher anymore,” Lunt said. “They definitely see me at first base and I played a little there for LCC. And [designated hitter], so I’ll see a lot of time hitting.”
Sports reporter/columnist Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected]