Varsity Baseball | June 1, 2020

Lake Central baseball manager Jackson Krueger loses final chance to officially make team; prepares for college career at IUSB

Lake Central baseball manager and Indiana University South Bend recruit Jackson Krueger as told to James Boyd:

While we were still in school, I would wake up, do my homework, and then usually I’d be done with my homework around noon or 1 p.m. After that, I’d eat lunch and then just text one of my friends and see what they were doing.

We would either play catch or do long toss or go work out somewhere. That’s pretty much what it was like until recently. We’d just wake up and just start doing baseball stuff.

I actually just got a job working for one of my classmate’s dads to make some money before I head to IU South Bend. He has a landscaping company, so I work somewhere between 8-10 hours a day. He usually gives us Sundays off, so I’ll use Sundays as a day to throw a bullpen or something. And if it rains one or two days out of the week, and I don’t have to work, then I’ll go lift with a friend and work on baseball stuff with them.

When the governor canceled school for the rest of the year on April 2 because of COVID-19, I kind of figured they were going to cancel the rest of the spring sports season. But then once I saw the headline, and it was official, it was a punch in the gut.

It was probably one of the most depressing days of life, if I’m being honest.

I was just sitting there thinking like, ‘This is how it ends? I don’t even get one more game or one more chance to even make the team?’ After being cut during tryouts my first three years, this wasn’t the way I thought I’d go out. But you gotta deal with it, and you can only control what you can control.

It was fun to be the manager, but when they sent us home from school on March 13 and moved us to e-learning, that next Monday was the first day of tryouts. We were three days away from starting the season.

Honestly, it would have been tough to make the team because we had a lot of really good guys coming back. But I felt like this was my best chance to make it out of all four years. I felt really good about my chances. But I’m not going to say I would’ve made it because you just don’t know.

I had a lot of goals for my senior year. The first goal that I always set for myself is to try and be the best teammate possible. I try to motivate the younger guys to want to get better, while trying to make myself better. I try to make freshmen and sophomores feel comfortable because they may get called up to practice with the varsity guys at some point, so you gotta make them feel like they belong there.

Another goal, and my main goal obviously, was to make the team. But I told myself that even if I did make the team, I probably wouldn’t be used that much because we were going to have a really deep pitching staff this year. So, if I got the chance to pitch, I knew not to screw it up.

As a team, our goal was to win state. I think we had a really good chance of making it far, and we had a lot of really good varsity players coming back. Everyone’s No. 1 goal was ultimately to win state.

Even though we didn’t get a chance to play this year, I’m grateful to still be able to play at IU South Bend. Probably the best decision I ever made was wanting to be serious about playing college baseball and starting the recruiting process earlier for myself. Because if I had started later or if I didn’t start at all, I do think I would be playing college baseball.

I’ll miss being at Lake Central, though, and just being around the team. The 12 seniors we had this year, I’ve been playing baseball with them since we were 7 or 8. Seeing them every day and getting to practice with them and joke around with them, that’s probably what I’m going to miss the most.

I don’t have any regrets with how things turned out because if I hadn’t stuck around and been the manager, I probably wouldn’t have gotten the chance to play on the summer team, which means I wouldn’t have been recruited, which means that I wouldn’t have the chance to play college baseball. So, I really don’t have any regrets. I loved what I did, and besides this year, I’m really happy with how high school went.

I’m looking forward to college because it will be the first time that I’ve ever pitched for my school. I’m going to do my best to pitch as much as I can before these next four years are over. So, I’m just trying to take advantage of the opportunity I’ve been given.

What keeps me going is just the love of the game. Ever since I got taught how to play baseball, I’ve loved it. I just want to be remembered as someone who would do anything to play another day.

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