Stephen Lund returns to Gonzaga’s lineup after injury | Sports

In the face of what could have been a career-ending injury, Stephen Lund has shown nothing but courage.

The redshirt sophomore catcher solidified his place on the GU baseball team as a capable offensive and defensive player, leading GU in homers in 2021 and starting in 29 of the 31 games he played in the 2020-2021 season.

But it was a Wednesday game at Washington State that interrupted his impressive progress.

With Jack Machtolf as third at bat and Lund at first, all that mattered was getting to second base after Machtolf hit a ground ball.

“In my head I was just thinking ‘let’s beat this out to second, let’s beat this out to second,'” Lund said.

As he slid, his back leg caught on the base, snapping his tibia, fibula and ankle as his body continued forward.

“Immediately, I did not really know what was happening on the field because my body went into shock and all I felt was a big tingling, like when you bump your funny bone,” Lund said.

Trainers and coaches rushed the field while paramedics arrived, making sure Lund was okay before moving him onto the stretcher and bringing him to Pullman Regional Hospital before being driven to Spokane that night.

The next day, he received surgery from the team doctor.

Following the surgery, he moved into the Davenport Hotel for recovery with his parents, who flew out of his home in Madison, Wisconsin. Staying in his Spokane home was not an option given the intensive care he needed and the stairs leading up to his room.

About three weeks post-surgery, Lund was able to fly home to Madison. Six weeks post-surgery, he started physical therapy to get mobility in his ankle back. Finally, in the beginning of July, he was able to walk without crutches.

“Not only did I break my ankle, but it was locked up in the boot for two months,” Lund said. “I’m still dealing with that now and trying to get my mobility back to what is considered the new normal for me.”

In order to repair his leg, the surgeon put in a rod and four screws – three by his ankle and one by his knee. The screws were removed in November, making it easier to swing, but the rod going from his ankle to his knee will be in forever.

Right now, Lund is getting his body used to the rod’s assistance. During physical activity, his knee swells up because it has a foreign object near it, which doctors do not think will ever go away. Now, their goal is to strengthen everything around it to find a way to minimize and tolerate the discomfort in his knee.

After watching summer regionals and fall practices from the sidelines, Lund was itching to get back to the diamond. While watching from the sidelines was difficult mentally, the team rallied around him to show their support.

“This fall, everyday somebody new would ask me how I was feeling, if I needed help with anything, if I was struggling with anything,” Lund said. “That is what got me through it. It was like ‘okay, everybody else is rallying around me, we’ll get through this and it will be fine.’ It’ll be really hard for a couple of months, but then we’ll be on the other side and we’ll be past it. “

Despite the changes brought about by his injury, Lund’s love for baseball has only grown.

“Ever since I’ve been back, there’s a new energy that I have at the field,” Lund said. “I just enjoy every opportunity to just play with my friends. I don’t put as much pressure on myself anymore, and I just take what I get on that certain day. ”

Growing up, Lund played soccer, basketball, football, baseball and golf. It was watching his older brother find his love for baseball that led him in that direction. At 10 years old, Lund knew that baseball was the sport for him.

Once he fell for baseball, he dove in head-first. He played for the GRB Rays starting at age 11 through 17U. In high school, he was first team all-conference his freshman, sophomore and senior year and was named to the Wisconsin senior all star game as a senior.

While he did not originally expect to be a Zag, Lund was noticed by current GU pitching coach Brandon Harmon, who was recruiting his travel ball teammate at the time.

“Growing up it was always the Midwest schools like the BIG 10, MAC schools, Missouri Valley,” Lund said in a previous interview with the Bulletin. “I never really thought about coming out here, but since I came out here I fell in love with the area and the school.”

The jump from high school to college baseball was intense, but Lund credits his travel abroad coaches with preparing him well. Coming into GU as a defense-oriented player, batting came almost naturally to him as he gained strength and focused on his swing.

After essentially having to start from square one post-injury, Lund has kept his focus on recovery and getting back in time for this season. Now, with the screws gone from his leg, the motion of batting is getting continuously less painful.

“Sometimes my leg isn’t feeling 100%, and I can go over to the coaches and training staff and tell them that and they just say ‘give us what you got today,'” Lund said. “And if it’s only 70% then it’s 70%.”

Having the coaches and training staff remind him of that allows him to give his body that time to recover. While his desire to play at 100% capacity never disappeared, Lund is getting back to the game however he can.

Returning to the game post-injury is both mentally and physically grueling, but Lund was welcomed back to the field with open arms from the bulldog baseball community. Since the injury, Lund has grown closer with GU catcher Tyler Rando, pushing each other to be the best they can be.

“My experience with Steve has been something I’m truly thankful for,” Rando said. “I came in as a junior college transfer when Steve and I competed for the starting catching job and I can truly say that [he] made me a whole lot better. Just being around him and seeing how great he is as a player and how serious he is about taking care of his body showed me that I can do more as a player. ”

Rando credits Lund with being a great teammate and showing him how special GU baseball is as a whole, with Lund as an example of how players and coaches work as one for the betterment of everyone.

“We all look forward to having him back in the lineup,” Rando said. “Sharing the field with him again soon will be really special.”


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