Your Prep Sports
TIFFIN – With school closed and spring sports cancelled due to the global coronavirus pandemic there wasn’t much Grant Jensen could do leading up to his final season of baseball other than wait.
Wait and work.
That’s what Jensen did.
Even when it looked like concerns over COVID-19 would cancel his senior season Jensen worked.
He hit as many as three times a day during the quarantine months, working every aspect of hitting he could imagine.
“For sure it was in the back of my mind that I was doing all this work and we might not even have a season,” Jensen said. “At the same time, if you put in the work results will come and I trusted that the work would pay off somehow.”
Oh, how the work has paid off for Jensen.
Jensen has posted the best season of his career this summer becoming a unanimous first-team all-WAMAC West Division pick and helping to lift Clear Creek Amana (16-5) to the first state tournament appearance in program history.
Not bad for a season that Jensen admitted he thought might never happen.
“It’s hard not to see what was going on (with COVID) but I just kept working and believed that it would pay off and it has,” Jensen said. “Our team was working, I know all the guys were finding a cage and hitting all the time and you can see all that working paying off.”
Even with the length of the season being essentially cut in half due to the pandemic Jensen has put up career highs in nearly every major statistical category.
Jensen enters Tuesday’s Class 3A state quarterfinal against Norwalk (17-5) at 10:30 a.m. at Principal Park in Des Moines hitting a team-high .473 with 27 runs scored and 20 RBI.
He has done it all while taking over a bulk of the catching duties for the Clippers over the past several weeks.
“Going into this season we were looking for a second catcher and I think Grant sacrificed a great deal to try to work into that catching role initially to share time with TJ (Bollers) but he has turned out to be a savior because he has taken the full load here the past few weeks,” first-year Clear Creek Amana head coach Nick Zumsande said. “Without him I’m not sure we are even in this position.”
Jensen had progressed steadily into a solid varsity player for the Clippers going from a .265 hitter as a sophomore to .341 last year.
Jensen was hoping to attract the eye of college coaches during his junior season but didn’t garner any scholarship offers.
As he waited for word on whether summer sports would be played Jensen prepared as if his future in the game depended on it because in some ways he knew it may.
“I knew this might end up being my only shot,” Jensen said. “I didn’t get any scholarships for baseball last year, I knew I had to put in the work this year to try to get a chance because I want to play baseball in college.”
Jensen credits hitting three times a day during the preseason (that is three hitting sessions a day, not a week) with helping him cut down his strikeouts from 34 in 150 at bats as a sophomore and junior to just nine in 74 at bats this season.
As the strikeouts when down the average for Jensen climbed, more than 100 points from his previous career best a year ago.
“I think it’s all a mindset,” Jensen said. “I had to be o.k. with failing because it was going to happen it’s baseball. Putting in that preseason work helped so much. We have a pretty high team batting average and I think that helped so much.”
Jensen also credits his work in the weight room with helping him post a career-best nine extra-base hits this season.
“I am going to give credit to our weight lifting coach Kyle Stoner, he is teaching us not only to be stronger but to be better athletes,” Jensen said. “I’m quicker, I’m faster and stronger.”
The big season from Jensen has guided the Clippers into uncharted territory.
Clear Creek Amana had been over .500 five times in the last 11 seasons and had never been more than four games over the .500 mark during that stretch.
The breakthrough regular season the program needed came complete with an upset of top-ranked Davenport Assumption in the substate final.
“I think this year as a total with all Clear Creek Amana sports we have paved a good road and we are creating a new culture,” Jensen said. “We are leaving here knowing we helped change the culture.”