College baseball: W.F. West grad Lutman shines at LCC to earn D-I opportunity


Hunter Lutman knew he was a Division I pitcher. He pitched like one his senior year at W.F. West High School, striking out 79 batters over 58 innings with a 2.39 earned run average.

Yet there were two obstacles in his way straight out of high school.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, attempting to retain players was a priority. Add in the transfer portal that continues to expand and Lutman’s phone never rang.

“I started throwing hard and getting some looks from D-1, but not a lot of offers,” Lutman said. “They’d rather take the kid with more experience over the freshman, so JUCO was the route I had to take.”
It ended up being the right path.

Lutman has shined in his lone season at Lower Columbia College, heading into a weekend four-game set against Olympic College with an unblemished 5-0 record and a 1.21 ERA and a strikeouts per nine innings mark of 9.71.

“Once we got a solid groove of a couple months, not a lot of hiccups,” Lutman stated.

That stellar start in turn has allowed the right-hander to commit to Utah Valley out of the Western Athletic Conference for the 2025 season. He’ll finish up this semester as a true freshman, then progress as a college student and be a true sophomore next season.

For Red Devils head coach Kurt Lupinski, he couldn’t imagine a better fit for his starter.

“I am very biased towards their belief,” Lupinski said of the program out of Orem, Utah. “We have sent players to Utah Valley and our programs are very similar. That’s a big part of why I think it is a good transition for Hunter and he will continue to get tougher and pitch at the highest level to be that total package pitcher.”

One of the consistencies between the two is Wolverines head coach Eddie Smith was the former head coach of LCC and Lupinski was his recruiting coordinator.

The philosophies are intertwined and Lutman felt that during his visit. Stunned by the views of the mountains and other scenery, the baseball aspect played a big role in his commitment.

Plus, Utah Valley was the lone program that kept in consistent contact.

“Everyone is friendly,” Lutman said. “I know it is going to be ran the same and nothing is going to change, so that helps.”

Lutman admitted he was holding out for a D-I opportunity his final season for the Bearcats, but as the months dragged on and no one kept in touch, he knew going to LCC was still on the table.

It didn’t take a lot of convincing.

“Halfway through the visit, you’re talking with the coaches and I looked at my dad and said ‘Yeah, this is the spot’ and it felt right,” Lutman said.

Lupinski credited recruiting coordinator Brian Valentine for helping get Lutman on campus and in a Red Devil jersey.

“Him and I work really hard to get the right player that fits us and that’s what Hunter has turned out to be,” Lupinski said. “(Hunter) has improved all aspects of his pitching, but understanding how to pitch more. That whole maturing process guys go through at this level. He’s done a great job with it.”

Lutman added a changeup to his arsenal and honed in his slider. While he still uses his fastball as his primary pitch, he’s thrown his offspeed pitches with confidence.

He developed the changeup over the summer while playing for Tumwater head coach Lyle Overbay on a league team.

“He knew I needed it,” Lutman said. “I’ve already proved myself and by the time I came here, had a general understanding and you break down the little things. Every single bullpen you throw it and now I feel confident.”

Throughout the process of figuring out what Lutman’s next steps will be, he hasn’t let it be a distraction to the rest of the team.

“I appreciate the professionalism,” Lupinski said. “He’s done a tremendous job, it has been awesome to see and makes you proud as a coach.”

Lutman believes the Wolverines can elevate him to his ultimate goal of being drafted, but there’s a program-wide goal he wants to help happen. They have only been to the NCAA Tournament once in school history, back in 2016.

“Their program is only getting better,” Lutman said. “You can be a part of that first team (to go to Omaha). You can go there and you’re going to help win the ultimate championship.”