Baseball has been life for Kade Lassen and now that life will continue at the next level while also staying close to home.
The Robinson High School senior signed his letter-of-intent this week to continue his baseball career at Lincoln Trail College.
"This is a dream come true," Lassen said. "My first goal for as long as I can remember was to be play college baseball and to get this chance is awesome."
In order to help him fulfill his dream, Lassen has played baseball virtually non-stop, with his numerous travel teams over the years taking him all across the United States to play against the best competition in the country.
"That really helped me get to where I am," Lassen said. "I played all over the country against the best players at my age level."
Both his current and future coach are excited for Lassen's decision.
"I think it's pretty safe to say that everyone involved with RHS baseball in the last three years is really proud of Kade Lassen," RHS head coach Reggie Truitt said. "He is a great person, a great teammate and a great baseball player. We have been really lucky to have a young man like Kade go through our baseball program and it's really exciting that he will be right here in Crawford County for another two years."
"We are ecstatic to get him," LTC head coach Kevin Bowers said. "Kade is an outstanding player and an outstanding young man. It is tough for us to keep local kids, especially those that have his level of ability, but Kade is someone I didn't want to lose. We attacked him early and we are fortunate to get him."
During his high-school career, Lassen has been a steady force in the RHS line-up since his freshman year. He has a career batting average of .377 (87-231) in his first three seasons, including six home runs, 17 doubles, two triples, 80 runs scored and 52 runs batted in. Last season, Lassen finished with a team-leading .427 average (38-89), which included three home runs, nine doubles, two triples, 35 runs scored and 26 runs batted in.
As is the case with most small-school programs, nearly everyone is needed to pitch at some point and while not his forte, Lassen has produced solid numbers in limited work on the bump. He has thrown a total of nine innings for the Maroons, posting a 0.89 ERA with 15 strikeouts and just one walk.
Meanwhile, defense is another strong suit for Lassen, as he has a .935 fielding percentage over his high-school career, making just 19 errors in three seasons.
"Defense is something I take pride in," Lassen said. "I feel like I am strong offensively and defensively, but there are going to bad hitting games, but defense is something I can control and I have worked my tail off to be as strong as I can be on that side of the ball."
"Kade has all the intangibles to go with the talent," Truitt said. "He works hard, he listens, he cares, and he takes the time to get better. If a coach along the way tells him that he should work on something in his game, he does it."
Bowers echoed those sentiments, noting Lassen's character traits are just as important as his baseball ability.
"Baseball ability aside, Kade is a high character kid," Bowers said. "He has an advanced skillset and above average ability, but his character sets him apart. Every time I saw him, he's not only working hard on his game, but willing to help others as well. He represents everything you'd want in a student-athlete and it is important for us to have those type of men in our program."
Lassen chose LTC for several reasons, including the strong program tradition and the fact it allows him to stay close to home.
"LTC has a good track record of getting players to the next level and with me being a little smaller, it gives me a chance to develop a little more before moving on to a four-year school," Lassen said. "Plus, having the opportunity to stay close to home and play in college is pretty cool."
"Kade is a tone setter," Truitt said. "No matter what we're doing, he sets the tone for us at a high level. He practices and plays the right way. Once he gets comfortable at LTC, he will do the same thing for their baseball team. As a coach you don't have to work to get this out of him. He just does it, that's Kade. They're going to love him."
A shortstop for the majority of his high-school career, Lassen hopes to stay in the middle infield when he gets to LTC, but is willing to play wherever he is needed.
"Whatever they need me for, I'll be there," Lassen said. "I love this game and feel comfortable on the field no matter where I am."
While getting the opportunity to play at LTC fulfills one dream, that is not the final destination Lassen has in mind.
"Once I achieve one goal, I just set another one and keep going," Lassen said. "While I'm at LTC I want to perfect some of my work, play as well as I can and move on to a four-year school. I hope to be able to play a Division I school and then hopefully beyond."
Bowers believes if we continues on the same path, he'll be successful at whatever level he's at.
"If he comes in and does what he did in high school at this level, he'll be able to get to the next level, no question," Bowers said. "I believe he has Division I ability and beyond and with his work ethic and his character, that can't help but lead to success."