Grand Valley’s Jensen returns to roots to polish game for Trinidad

Tyler Jensen stands ready at the Gene Taylor’s batting cage.

Tyler Jensen’s first year at Trinidad State Junior College was a humbling one.

A four-sport athlete at Grand Valley High School, Jensen decided to pass up chances to play college football to pursue college baseball.

“I felt like I got a lot out of myself in football, and there was still more ability in baseball,” Jensen said. “I figured the most growing I would have to do was with baseball.”

When Jensen arrived at Trinidad, he was struggling with shoulder and elbow problems. His mechanics, along with the fact he wasn’t up to par with the kids who had come from Denver or Albuquerque were reasons he redshirted.

“That was probably the least favorite experience of my life,” Jensen said. “I never had to sit coming from a 2A school, but having to redshirt and watch every game from the bleachers, do stats and chase foul balls was awful.”

Jensen’s distaste for the sitting is understandable, since he had started for Grand Valley’s baseball team for four consecutive years. Although Jensen didn’t get to play in Trinidad’s games, he took advantage of playing and learning in practice.

“I had the best coaching I’d ever had in my life there,” Jensen said. “I learned so much about the sport of baseball.”

Jensen has shown off his growth while playing for the Gene Taylor’s U-18 competitive summer baseball team. Jensen plays third base and first base and also pitches.

He has a .281 batting average with 7 RBI, posting a 1-0 record and 3.28 ERA in 10 innings pitched.

He was recently selected to the all-tournament team at the Artie Escobado Tournament in Pueblo.

“He caught our eye swinging the bat at the tryout,” Gene Taylor’s coach Blaine Bernandes said.

“He’s impressed us offensively, he’s gotten a couple of big hits for us, and plays a good third base.”

Bernandes respects Jensen as a player, but he doesn’t understand how important selecting Jensen for the select team was for Jensen’s baseball future. If Jensen hadn’t made the Gene Taylor’s team, he said he wasn’t sure if he would have returned to Trinidad in the fall.

“If I didn’t make this team, it was going to be hard to go back next year knowing that everyone was playing on competitive teams all summer while I was doing nothing,” Jensen said. “But when I found out I made this team it was motivating, because it meant I had one more summer of competitive baseball.”

Jensen is one of four players on the Gene Taylor’s roster who played at the collegiate level in 2009, and showcased one of the most important things he learned at Trinidad at a recent practice. Jensen stood at the cage at Gene Taylor’s crushing the ball off of a tee right up the middle of the cage. The simple drill changed Jensen as a player.

“I started hitting off a tee at Trinidad. I had never done that in high school, but if you can’t hit a ball back up the middle when it’s sitting still, you can’t hit a ball that’s moving,” Jensen said. “It changed everything, where my hands were, where my weight was distributed, and what I did with my hands. It was crazy.”

As for the rest of the summer, Jensen hopes to lift his average back above .300 and help the Taylor’s team improve on its 5-8 record.

“It’s a new team, but we have been getting better,” Jensen said.

The Taylor’s team is showing progress, finishing third at last weekend’s Artie Escobado Tournament, losing only one game. This weekend the Taylor’s team plays in the Hank Molina Tournament in Farmington, N.M.


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