Tuntland finds fit at West Virginia

Ryan Tuntland’s only Achilles’ heel between him and a Division I baseball future seemed to be an injury to precisely that tendon in his right leg.

The former all-area shortstop at Maine West had showcased the skills and put up strong numbers in his freshman year at Oakton College. But a strained Achilles basically wiped out his sophomore season.

“I felt that,” Tuntland said of possible concerns the injury could hurt his chances of signing with a bigger program. “But coach (Bill) Fratto reiterated to me that they were always behind me and that helped me a lot.

“It’s a really comforting thing to know your coach is behind you and believes in you.”

After West Virginia and Tuntland saw what each other had to offer it led to a letter of intent with a school that will be leaving the Big East Conference for the Big 12.

“It’s a great opportunity to play at a great school like that,” Tuntland said of his visit to the Morgantown campus earlier this month. “I really liked the place and the coaching staff and it felt like the right place to be.”

Tuntland showed he was back to 100 percent in a fall showcase at St. Joseph’s College in Rensselaer, Ind., and said his Division I interest also included Washington, Missouri and Western Illinois.

“He came back and worked hard,” Fratto said. “I always knew he would be a D-I guy because his work habits are good and he’s a great kid.”

Tuntland was injured his junior year at Maine West but came back to hit .537 with 3 homers and 30 RBI. He said most of his college interest came from two-year schools so he stayed close to home at Oakton.

Tuntland hit .395 with 8 homers, 43 RBI, 14 doubles and 18 stolen bases as a freshman. He was redshirted last season when he was shut down to prevent an Achilles’ tear which would have required an 18-month rehab and recovery.

“The choice of going there and playing under coach Fratto and his staff helped me a lot during the whole situation and in deciding what school to go to,” said Tuntland, who will play for Oakton again this spring. “Oakton has been a great program to go to.”

Tuntland was recruited by West Virginia, which went 28-27 last year, to play shortstop and hit in the top half of the batting order. He is undecided on a major but is leaning toward exercise science.

“I think he’s got a big future ahead of him,” Fratto said of interest Tuntland is also receiving from pro scouts.

“My main goal out of high school and from talking with coach Fratto is I wanted to go D-I,” Tuntland said. “Coach Fratto really believed in me … and this (West Virginia) lived up to where I wanted to be.”

Maine West product Ryan Tuntland overcame an Achilles’ heel injury at Oakton and has earned a spot in West Virginia’s baseball program. Photo courtesty Oakton College
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