Prep Baseball Report

Haarde Elated To Find A Home At Penn State

Bruce Hefflinger
PBR New England Senior Writer

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Haarde Elated To Find A Home At Penn State

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Jake Haarde SS / OF / Lincoln-Sudbury Regional, MA / 2024

SUDBURY, Ma. - Jake Haarde found what he was looking for at Penn State.

“I wanted academics with a nice campus and facilities,” the 13th-rated 2024 shortstop in New England explained. “The coaching staff really made the difference.”

The Lincoln-Sudbury High School senior had talked with the Big 10 school prior to a coaching change, but when the new staff was hired, interest in Penn State grew for Haarde.

“I was talking with coach Puccio at Northeastern, and also coach Gambino,” Haarde said in reference to Nick Puccio, now an assistant at Penn State, and Mike Gambino, the former Boston College head coach who is the new top dog at PSU. “I was always interested in Penn State, but with the new coaches they have there it shot up to number one.”

The 6-0 180-pounder made an impression on Penn State as well.

“They like my speed, my ability to have good contact and my power,” pointed out the fourth-ranked 2024 shortstop in Massachusetts, who initially had interest from Northeastern, UMass Amherst and Central Connecticut State two summers ago before Boston College, Iowa, Northeastern and Penn became considerations this past summer. “Coach Gambino thinks I can start all over the field. We will see, but he thinks I have the most potential in center field. I played outfield when I was younger, but in high school and summer I mainly play middle infield.”

The desire to be part of a baseball program at the next level has been around since Haarde was young.

“It’s always been a goal of mine, but sophomore year I really started to think about it and began looking at schools,” Haarde reflected. “I was playing well, starting my first year, and I had friends that were starting to look at schools.”

Admittedly, recruitment was not easy.

“It was definitely an up and down process,” the 52nd-rated 2024 in New England explained. “Coach Dan Sullivan helped me with navigating the recruiting process as well as my hitting coach who helped me improve my hitting significantly.

“I went to the PBR Top Prospect Games and played well there and got a D-I offer from Central Connecticut from that,” Haarde continued. “The Procase got me an invite to the Yankees Area Code Tryouts and that was awesome. There was just a ton of talent there and MLB scouts. That was really motivating seeing where all those kids were going, some to big-time schools. It led me to want to compete more and get better.”

There were numerous others that Haarde gave credit to in his baseball journey to Penn State.

“Gerry Caroll has coached me every summer since I was 10,” Haarde said. “He helped me become an overall better baseball player and person. Brandon Anderson has helped me get faster and improve my overall athleticism. He has been my assistant coach the past few summers.

“Matt Wentworth, my high school coach, helps me with working on fielding a lot and the little things and John O’Neil at Cressey Sports Performance has written my lifting programs for the past couple winners and off-seasons. My parents have also been a huge help with the recruiting process, and me and my brother, who plays at Denison, hit and threw together a lot in the backyard.”

The 24th-rated senior in Massachusetts is elated to have made a decision as senior year begins.

“It’s awesome to know where I’m going, I wanted it done before senior year of football,” noted Haarde, a receiver and strong safety who also gave credit to head football coach Jim Girard for helping with overall athleticism and toughness. “It takes a lot off my shoulders.”

Leadership, positivity and playing hard are qualities that the 17-year-old believes he will bring to Penn State, which is located nearly seven hours from home.

“I’m looking forward to having a place to hit and lift whenever I want in the fall,” concluded Haarde, who has a 3.5 unweighted GPA, scored 1410 on the SAT and is considering a major in business or a sports-related field. “That should give me a lot of time to get ready for the spring season. I’m also looking forward to meeting everyone.”

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