Focus, hard work pay off for Superior Central's Englund
ROCK — Superior Central baseball coach Walt Smith has long appreciated the talent of senior Duane “Duner” Englund III.
Smith coached Englund on youth travel baseball teams and swears the standout shortstop-pitcher hasn’t changed one bit.
“What is odd about Duner is he has the same demeanor as when he was 12,” Smith said. “He’s always been steady. From a kid to now, he’s always been the same guy.”
Englund is all business when it comes to baseball and it’s shown in his performance over the years.
He’ll be a key player for the Cougars in their quest to win a district championship next week. Superior Central will host district favorite Gladstone Tuesday at 4 p.m.
Smith said Englund excels because his focus, dedication and work ethic are second to none.
“He never wastes time,” Smith said. “He always wants more reps. He’s like a well-oiled machine. He wants to get better all the time. Duner is the most poised and dedicated player I have ever been around.”
Englund is the leader of a young Cougars’ team with only two seniors.
He’s a multi-sport athlete who competes for Mid Peninsula in cross country, golf and boys basketball. But it’s baseball that’s always driven him.
“My love for baseball came from my grandpa,” said Englund, who is the son of Duane and Delores Englund. “He started me real young and got me hooked on it right away. I developed a love for the game really fast.”
Englund’s grandfather played professional baseball, advancing to the Triple-A level with the Toledo Mundhens as a shortstop.
“His best advice to me is to keep going, move forward and never give up,” Englund said about his grandfather. “And remember to have fun. Never forget, it’s just a game.”
Englund has played high-level baseball throughout the years, including helping the Appleton-based Wisconsin Panthers win a national title a couple years ago.
Englund leads the Cougars in most statistical categories. He’s hitting .619 with three home runs and seven doubles and has five wins on the mound with an ERA under 2.0.
Englund, who will attend Flint’s Mott Community College, will play summer baseball for the Saginaw Gold.
How did the 18-year-old Englund end up going to Mott to play junior college baseball?
“I went down there to a baseball camp, but they canceled the camp,” Englund said. “We were down there, so my mom called and said ‘Hey can someone look at my kid? The head coach called back and said we’ll look at him. I went through a workout and they offered me on the spot.”
Englund likely will position as middle infielder instead of pitching at Mott.
He’s honed his hitting skills with the help of a batting cage and pitching machine set up along the side of driveway at his home.
“I use it every day before I go to bed,” said Englund, a superstitious player who always puts his left batting glove on before his right glove.
On Thursday night, Smith presented Englund with a custom engraved bat to show his appreciation for Englund’s commitment to the game.
Englund understands baseball is a game set up more for failure than success. It’s a game you are a star for collecting three hits in 10 at bats.
But that’s why Englund stays focused, committed and driven.
“Kids now days like to take the easy way out,” said Englund, who is joined on the team by his freshman brother Zach. “In baseball, you have to work at it 24/7. If you want to be good at it, you have to work hard all the time.”