ST. JOHN | Even when he's not on the field playing baseball, Alec Olund is thinking about baseball.
He watches any and all college and pro games on television, trying to pick up something new, learn from every situational hit, every move a fielder makes.
"They're paid to play, and I'm always trying to study the game, watch the situations, watch what they do," Olund said. "Even when you don't want to be there, you have to remember this can be me one day, and I don't want to let the team down."
Olund is a sophomore designated hitter at Lake Central, one of three non-senior starters on the Indians team that will face Zionsville in today's Class 4A Kokomo Semistate.
All that baseball "homework" has paid off, making Olund an easy choice to keep on the varsity, despite his age, coach Jeff Sandor said.
"He does a good job putting the ball in play, he runs the bases real well, he's just a baseball instinct guy. He sees something before it happens, that's a rarity," Sandor said.
"He's just a junkie. You talk about a kid who his whole life has played 70-80 games a summer and that's how you develop those things."
Olund is a .356 hitter, with 13 runs and 13 RBIs. He missed a portion of the season with a sore elbow and sitting on the bench taught him even more about the game, he said.
"Mentally, even when I wasn't playing, I wanted to be out there on the field helping them," he said, "but cheering on the bench is just as important. In baseball, you need a lot of confidence, you can't get down on yourself about making outs or errors.
"When someone's feeling down, you need to bring them back up and cheer them on. People need that, they like to see that you're not being selfish and helping out the team anyway you can."
Olund's older brother, Anthony, was a 2009 grad who played on the Indians' sectional title teams in 2007, 2008 and 2009. Anthony played second base, a spot that Alec saw early in the season, until it was won by a senior.
Still, the Indians weren't ready to give up Alec Olund's bat.
"He can flat-out hit," Sandor said. "He showed that the stage wasn't too big for him. That's important in a young kid, because sometimes young kids shy away from that. After 31 games, guess what you're not anymore, you're not a sophomore."
Olund isn't done yet, with two more years to terrorize Duneland Athletic Conference pitchers. He was placed in the No. 9 hitting spot this season, and leadoff hitter Nick Kellams has 16 RBIs to show how effective Olund could be.
"Sometimes having that young kid around, that's not going to pay off for us this year, but in two years, he's going to be that guy they're going to look to in an 0-2 count, he's been there; you're down one going into the seventh inning, he's been there through all that and he's been on this ride," Sandor said.
"You see with all these teams that have success. There's something to be said for all that seasoning."