Blue Springs grad Jake Lufft follows his brother
Jake Lufft is used to following in his brother’s footsteps. He did it at Blue Springs High School and now he is about to do it in college.
Lufft will be joining Rockhurst University’s baseball team in the spring of 2021 after a two-year stint at State Fair Community College in Sedalia, Mo.
His coach at State Fair, Jud Kindle, didn’t mince words about what the Hawks are getting.
“I think he will be their best player,” Kindle said of Lufft, a 2018 Blue Springs High School graduate. “I can see him hitting in the No. 2- or No. 3-hole and being their everyday third baseman or right fielder. And, he will probably start a game (on the mound) for them on the weekend.”
Lufft filled in both roles admirably for the Roadrunners, who were 15-9 in this abbreviated 2020 season.
He hit .263 with 20 hits – 11 were for extra bases: seven doubles, one triple and three home runs. He was second on the team in home runs and third in RBIs with 19. On the mound, the right-handed hurler was 1-1 with 1.00 ERA and three saves in seven games.
The year prior he was an All-Region 16 pick for State Fair, helping the team reach the regional finals. State Fair won its first two games to make the finals, but lost twice as Crowder won 9-4 and 2-1 to advance to district play. The two teams met up in the opening round of the tournament and State Fair got a 5-4 win as Lufft hit a solo home run. Facing Mineral Area Junior College for the right to reach the finals in the championship bracket, Lufft delivered the game-winning walk-off single.
In the 9-4 loss to Crowder, he had two doubles and two RBIs.
“He was one of the best pure hitters I’ve ever coached,” said Kindle, who previously managed the Sedalia Bombers in the MINK League. “He’s got amazing pop, a line-drive hitter and he has an eye for barreling up the baseball.”
Lufft’s freshman season ended with a .304 batting average, 35 runs, eight home runs, 43 RBIs and a slugging percentage of .572 – second best on the team. His home run and RBI totals were also second-best for the Roadrunners. On the mound, he was 3-0 with a 4.63 ERA in 11 2/3 innings.
Kindle first noticed Lufft during his sophomore season at Blue Springs but at that point, he was headed to Pittsburg State. That changed two years later and Kindle was glad to welcome Lufft to the roster.
Now, Rockhurst will be welcoming another Lufft to the roster.
Jeremy Lufft was a four-year starter for the Hawks, from 2015-18. When Jake was in high school, Rockhurst coach Gary Burns recruited him too.
This time around, Burns finally got him to commit as Lufft picked staying close to home over offers from Columbia College and Emporia State.
“It hit me baseball will end soon and I might as well make the best education I can, and Rockhurst was it,” Jake Lufft said. “I saw what it did for my brother; he is becoming very successful with his Rockhurst education and I can be going down the same path. Rockhurst has been recruiting me for a long time, since I was in high school. I thought back then I’d go bigger and better and it’s not always about baseball – it’s about finding an education and the best education for me. I feel like I should be there.”
The younger Lufft is currently enrolled in online classes and will finish his associate degree in the fall from State Fair. He will then join Rockhurst in the second semester ahead of the 2021 season and focus on getting a degree in business administration.
Lufft joins a Rockhurst program that was 10-7 this season before the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out the rest of it and features a pair of former teammates in C.J. July and Peyton Smith. He expects some of the elder Hawks on the roster might give him a little bit of grief following in the footsteps of his brother Jeremy, who started four years for Rockhurst.
“I played with a lot of Jeremy’s friends in high school,” Lufft said. “He was a senior when I was an eighth grader and he still had friends on the team when I became a freshman. Every baseball game it was like, ‘Oh, Jeremy could’ve done this or he could’ve done this.’ They were always giving me a hard time. I feel like this might be the same thing.”
The Lufft brothers spent a lot of time together this summer with Jeremy managing the North Kansas City Apartment Giants in the Ban Johnson League and Jake being a key player on the team.
He was a starter for the Giants, going 1-4 with a 3.89 ERA. Of the 20 runs allowed, 11 were earned – and three of his losses came during the team’s 1-9 start.
Jake Lufft closed the year with two quality starts – yielding two earned runs in 13 innings – and struck out a season-high seven in a July 22 game versus the Milgram Mustangs.
At the plate, Jake Lufft’s .367 batting was eighth in the Ban Johnson League, while his .600 slugging percentage was ninth overall. He had six doubles, a triple, two home runs and 10 RBIs as well.
“I know his skill level more than anyone,” Jeremy Lufft said of his younger brother. “He can hit the crap out of the ball. I knew I could pencil him in as our three-hole hitter every game. Some may say it was favoritism or nepotism or whatever. I saw it as he was the best player on the team and he was put in the best position to succeed.”