Sophomore pitcher Levi Stoudt opened his Lehigh baseball career with a standout rookie campaign that foreshadowed what was yet to come from the young standout.
Prior to playing baseball at Lehigh, Stoudt led the Perkiomen School to a league title in each of his four years on his high school team. As a three-time All-Area pick and a two-time All-Southeastern Pennsylvania honoree, Stoudt was named his school’s MVP during his senior year.
With Stoudt’s handful of early accolades, it wasn’t hard for him to catch Lehigh’s attention.
“He reached out to us and indicated interest, and coach (Sean) Leary really, really liked what he saw,” said John Fugett, Lehigh’s pitching coach and recruiting coordinator. “At that point, it sort of just clicked together. We had a high level of interest and went after him aggressively.”
After a phenomenal performance at the high school level, Stoudt was expected to have a major impact as a Mountain Hawk.
Although he was a second-string pitcher to senior Connor Donovan during his freshman season, Stoudt didn’t go unrecognized.
As a rookie, Stoudt became the only pitcher in the Patriot League to be named a Freshman All-American by Collegiate Baseball. He was also selected to the Second Team All-Patriot League, named Patriot League Rookie of the Week twice and earned Patriot League Pitcher of the Week honors.
Last season, Stoudt led Lehigh in starts with 12, innings pitched with 61.2 and games completed with three. He tied for the team lead in wins with four, and his 2.34 ERA finished second on the team among starting pitchers.
Upon Donovan’s graduation last May, Stoudt was picked to move up and take over his role.
“He is a frontline, true No. 1 pitcher,” Fugett said. “We give him the ball in the biggest spots and expect him to win. He competes at the highest level every time.”
Stoudt embraced his new position as the team’s starting pitcher and stepped up to the plate with his rookie experience to guide him.
“The biggest difference between freshman and sophomore year is that I’ve had a full year to adjust to college-level hitters,” Stoudt said, “meanwhile learning what I must do in order to have success.”
During his first season on the team, Stoudt started the last game of each weekend series. This year, he is the team’s ace, meaning he starts the first game of every series.
Senior shortstop and captain James Bleming said Stoudt plays an important part in setting the tone for the remainder of the weekend through his starting role.
Despite the pressure he faces to execute on the mound, Stoudt stays cool, calm and composed. His coaches and teammates describe him as a silent competitor.
“He is a quiet kid that keeps to himself,” Bleming said. “But, he takes the mound with such tangible poise and confidence that permeates through our whole team whenever he is pitching.”
Fugett agreed with Bleming and said the Mountain Hawks’ confidence in Stoudt makes him the successful competitor that he is. Fugett said Stoudt has turned into a leader who leads by example, remains steady in his demeanor and performance and enjoys the responsibility he has to help his team win every game he pitches.
“I think he likes to let his performance speak for itself,” Fugett said.
So far this year, Stoudt has not disappointed. The young pitcher achieved a career-high of 12 strikeouts against Holy Cross on March 31. Earlier in the month, Stoudt was named the Patriot League Pitcher of the Week after a key performance to defeat the defending Atlantic-10 Conference and NCAA Regional champions, the Davidson College Wildcats.
“Levi raises the bar for every other pitcher on the team to reach,” Bleming said. “With him on the mound, we feel like we can beat any team we face. Levi has a ‘won’t be denied’ attitude.”
Bleming said the sky is the limit for his teammate. He describes Stoudt as a special person whose talent and qualities will allow him to achieve greatness in whatever he chooses to pursue.
With his second season at Lehigh underway, Stoudt’s focus is on winning the Patriot League Tournament and getting the senior class the rings the players deserve.
Fugett is certain Stoudt’s drive and determination will help Lehigh compete for the league title for as long as he is a Mountain Hawk.