Lerud commits to Santa Clara
Galena High’s Steve Lerud made sure he’ll be able to enjoy his senior year by verbally committing to play baseball at Santa Clara University.
Lerud will sign with the school during the fall signing period in November. Lerud was recruited by 25 of the nation’s top baseball programs.
Among the schools that offered Lerud scholarships were the University of San Diego, California and UNLV.
“It’s very nice for the phone calls to finally stop and to just get on with my life now,” Lerud said.
Lerud, though, may face another major decision this spring — whether to pass up a scholarship to Santa Clara to enter the Major League draft.
“I’d think it’s definitely something I’d love to do right out of high school,” said Lerud about signing professionally.
Whether Lerud is drafted high enough to pass up Santa Clara remains to be seen. “It’s really too early to tell,” Lerud said.
Lerud said if he doesn’t sign professionally out of high school, the plan will be to play for three years at Santa Clara and then sign professionally.
“I don’t think that Steve’s too worried about it,” Galena coach Gary McNamara said.
McNamara has known Santa Clara coach Mark O’Brien ever since high school, but the Galena coach said he really had little to do with Lerud deciding on Santa Clara.
“They kind of went about it as a family,” McNamara said. “I think they did a very good job.
“I think it’s a good fit. He’s also put a lot of effort in the classroom. He’s (O’Brien) excited about having Steve.”
Santa Clara is an up and coming program that has made NCAA playoff appearances in the past. A member of the West Coast Conference, Santa Clara had one of the nation’s top recruiting classes this year and will be building a new baseball stadium.
“Santa Clara is going to be a force to be dealt with in the near future,” McNamara said. “I think Steve is going to be a big part of their success. I’m excited for him and I’m excited for Santa Clara.
“He’s going to bring work ethic. He’s going to bring leadership. He’s going to bring obvious talent. I think that he’s going to get better.”
Lerud gives Santa Clara a talented left-handed power-hitting catcher, who has good opposite field power.
“I think he’s the best player in the area,” McNamara said. “I don’t think there’s any question. Steve will probably be able to play anywhere he wants.”
The chance to play right away was one reason why Lerud chose Santa Clara, he said.
“It was just the right fit for me,” said Lerud, who played for the Carson Capitols in 2001 under Carson High coach Ron McNutt. “I’ll have a very good shot at playing right away and making an impact in the lineup, which is one of the things I was looking for.”