Two traditional recruits: pitcher Peter Moore and shortstop James Bleming.
A local kid: outfielder and catcher Ryan Bonshak.
A late recruiting addition: pitcher Buck Schwab.
A walk-on: infielder and outfielder Chris Kersey.
A transfer: pitcher Matt Ratner.
Though each Lehigh baseball senior followed a different path to become a Mountain Hawk, the class of 2018 is leaving as one of the most successful in the team’s history.
None of the seniors were roommates as freshmen, but they bonded over baseball and understood what it took to be a skilled player right from the start. Each valued working hard in the weight room, getting in extra batting practice and making the extra effort.
Their common values forged a lasting friendship.
“I remember realizing that I found a friend group with the same motivations, goals and work ethic as I did and wanting to stay with them,” Bleming said. “They always challenged me to get out of my comfort zone and grow.”
Despite coming from different backgrounds, Schwab said the seniors have the same mentality.
“What we share is a common attitude of, ‘Hard work pays off,’ and that you buy in and put the team before yourself,” Schwab said. “That keeps it really simple, and we could all get behind that.”
Their hard work paid off.
The senior class stands seventh in Lehigh baseball history, with over 20 average wins per season. The Mountain Hawks won the team’s second-ever Patriot League Championship as freshmen.
The success the seniors found during their first season was instrumental in forming their bond as a class. Bleming said seeing the culmination of their efforts result in winning the league title was one of their biggest motivators.
Kersey said he and his senior teammates looked up to that year’s senior class — a team-first, mentally tough, hardworking group of players — as role models for what they wanted their class and legacy to be over the next four years.
“The senior class that was present when we were freshmen did an outstanding job of helping us understand the culture of our team, what we wanted to do and what we had to do to get to that point,” Kersey said.
Over the last four years, the six seniors grew closer together through their willingness to be there for one another, especially in times of hardship. This season’s losing overall and league records encouraged the class to rally around each other.
“It’s a dose of perspective,” Schwab said. “How lucky am I to show up to practice today? People can be complaining about grades, homework, how bad practice is going to be. Knowing we have such a great group of guys around us to support us and lift us even in times when we might not be as focused as we need to be.”
Success on the field aside, Schwab said his class will be remembered for its leadership, which is what the seniors wanted to be their legacy from the beginning. He said he hopes they helped mold the team culture into one of hard work and determination.
Kersey said one of the most important qualities the senior class embodied was getting out what you put in.
“The more work you put in and the more determined you are with all the little things you can do to make yourself better, not only as an athlete but also as a person,” he said. “Somewhere along the line you are going to be rewarded for that and something good will happen.”
As one of the most decorated classes in the team’s history, Kersey said the senior class left it all on the field.
He said he’ll miss the small daily things that go into being on a team the most — pregame locker room antics, morning coffee runs and hanging out on the field.
“I think I speak for the rest of my class when I say this, ‘We put everything we had into these four years,” Schwab said. “The results — they are what they are — but I think we all can look back and say, ‘I don’t think there is anything else we could’ve done to help get us to where we wanted to go.'”