Shoen to play baseball at University of Mary
TRUMAN — The 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame appears leaner and quicker. The powerful swing has leveled off. The strong throws hold a straighter line. The competitive demeanor is self-effacing.
Current Fairmont Martins amateur baseball player and former Martin Luther/Granada-Huntley-East Chain/Truman Jaguar three-sport extraordinaire Derek Shoen has evolved into a much-wanted commodity on the diamond since graduating from Truman High School in 2018.
Shoen gives all the credit to Iowa Western Community College head baseball coach Marc Rardin and Reivers hitting guru Tyler Herbst for his vast improvements on the field, in the batter’s box, on the base paths and in the dugout over the past two years.
“I have nothing but good things to say about playing for Iowa Western’s baseball program,” Shoen said in reference to the National Junior College Athletic Association Division 1 program located in Council Bluffs, Iowa. “I went there as a raw and young kid, and learned from coach Rardin how to handle myself both on and off the field.
“Since he’s coached for nearly as many years as I’ve been alive, I figured I’d better listen to him. He’s taught me so many life lessons along the way. One of those is just worry about what you can control.”
With that philosophy in mind, Shoen will take his gloves, bats and spikes to Bismarck, North Dakota, where he’ll continue his baseball career for the Division 2 University of Mary Marauders next spring.
The hard-hitting Shoen, who played third base during his freshman collegiate campaign at Iowa Western before moving to first base as a sophomore, will likely fill a valuable utility role for the University of Mary by playing both infield corner positions, the outfield and probably serving as a setup reliever out of the Marauders’ bullpen.
“With the whole coronavirus scramble earlier this spring, I was fortunate to find a school like Mary that what they had to offer matched what I wanted in a school,” said Shoen, who was hitting .323 with one home run and 11 RBIs, to complement 12 runs scored and a .447 on-base percentage in 13 games during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. “The school has the major (sports management and leisure activities) I was looking for, and it fell into one of the two categories that (University of Mary head coach) Tanner Spencer talks about.”
Spencer told Shoen to look for two aspects during the recruiting process — A: Either a program rich in tradition, like Shoen experienced at Iowa Western; or B: A program where you can develop your own culture.
Ironically, both Shoen and Spencer discovered the ‘B’ portion of the equation at the Bismarck campus.
“He (Spencer) said Mary had never won on a consistent basis before he arrived as the school (in December of 2019),” said Shoen, who also hit .323 with two HRs and 11 RBIs and a .613 slugging rate in 26 games at Iowa Western in 2019. “Now we have the chance to build our own tradition and create a winning atmosphere.”
Shoen definitely knows first-hand about athletic success as the pride of the Jaguars played a key role in engineering the baseball team’s first-ever Minnesota State High School League Class A state tournament bid as a junior in 2017.
The two-time all-state baseball selection shared Sentinel All-Area player of the year honors in both 2017 and 2018 to complement earning all-Section 2A and all-Valley Conference diamond accolades four years each as a prep student-athlete.
Shoen also was tabbed the Sentinel All-Area basketball player of the year in 2018, while meriting All-Area honors in football three times to cap a prolific high school athletic career.
For the next 10 weeks or so, Shoen will continue to work for the city of Sherburn during the day, be diligent in his daily strength and conditioning training, and work at getting good at-bats against quality amateur pitching two or three times per week.
“I know what I need to work on from my hitting coach (Herbst) at Iowa Western,” said Shoen. “He gave me a great set of drills to keep my timing and bat speed intact.
“Now, after two years at a quality JUCO, overall, I know what to expect and what to do to get ready for playing baseball at the next level next season. As a freshman, it was overwhelming at first, but Rardin really knows how to keep you at the top of your game both physically and mentally.”