LOWELL — While the season is coming to an end for Jonathan Luders and the Lynnfield baseball team, the journey is not over by any means.
Luders, a junior captain this season, has grown as a player and a person over his first three years with the Pioneers. In each of those seasons Lynnfield made it into the Division 3 North final, and in each of those years the Pioneers have come up just short. So where do they go from here?
“We exceeded expectations this year and had a lot of young guys step up, so now they’ve seen what it takes to get here,” Luders said. “Now it’s time to just take what we’ve learned, work hard in the offseason and come back next year and try to get back to this point.”
It’s been an interesting journey for Luders over the past few seasons. After spending his first two seasons in more of a support role, playing outfield and pinch hitting in certain situations, Luders was given the keys to the car, so to speak, when he was named the team’s starting shortstop and leadoff hitter at the start of this year. He took to the change nicely, becoming a star in the field and a hassle for opposing pitchers both at the plate and on the basepaths.
“He played great last year in a support role in the outfield, then took to shortstop quickly this season,” said Lynnfield coach John O’Brien. “This year he’s really take the next step. He’s a great leader on and off the field, interacts with all his teammates, and does all of that while still being a great player. Anything hit near him at shortstop, he’s going to make the play or kill himself trying. That’s all you can ask for in a player.”
Now, Luders will be taking the next step in his baseball career entering his senior season. As he grew into his role as a leader on and off the field in his junior year, he had the help of his fellow captains, seniors Cooper Marengi and Nick Giammarco, to go to for advice on anything.
“I think both of those guys really set the tone all year, and I learned a lot from them,” Luders said of his fellow captains. “I really learned how to lead, and I could go to them with stuff anytime, whether it was after practice or in the weight room or wherever. They really set the tone and I lead after them in a way. I’m just really blessed to have them.”
And so Luders will take all of what he’s learned and go into his senior year as one of the undisputed leaders of the Pioneers. O’Brien, for one, is excited to see how Luders will look after yet another offseason of work.
“He’s got all the tools, and he’s got another full year with us here,” O’Brien said. “I can only imagine the kind of effort he’ll put in to get better over the offseason to come back better than ever next year.”