On the bus ride to Duke University, players are full of nervous excitement and energy as they prepare to begin the new season.
One player, freshman Casey Rother, was calm — even though it would be his first time playing in a Lehigh jersey. His first two at-bats were strikeouts, and he quickly realized that the pace of this game is much faster than in high school.
As he prepared for his next at-bat, coach Sean Leary delivered advice: “We’re starting you for a reason. Just relax and do what you do.”
The next time he stepped up to the plate, he got his first hit.
Rother quickly settled into the pace of college level baseball and put on a series of impressive performances this season. He was named Patriot League Rookie of the Week after the games at Duke.
The speed at which Rother was able to adjust to the new level of baseball was impressive to many, including Leary.
“Any time a freshman can get out there the first weekend and perform at a high-level shows that he’s a pretty talented kid who also has the poise to do that,” Leary said.
Rother played in two of the three games against Duke, managing four hits, a run and an RBI.
He played in all three games against Mount St. Mary’s in Baltimore this past weekend and had a total of three hits, two runs and an RBI. Rother said he is used to the pressure after his first game.
“For my first time playing, I really had the nerves,” Rother said. “But a couple at-bats after that, it’s just another baseball game really.”
As a three-sport varsity athlete in high school Rother is no stranger to competing and delivering results, having played baseball, basketball and football before coming to Lehigh.
Leary, who is a big fan of multi-sport athletes, said one of the reasons he was attracted to Rother during the scouting process was he was a strong competitor. Teammate junior Levi Stoudt said he could quickly tell that Rother was not one to overcomplicate his game.
“My first impression (of Rother) was just that he knows how to hit, and he doesn’t overthink anything,” Stoudt said. “He gets up there and swings the bat, he’s a good hitter.”
After a big success or loss, Rother never gets too high or too low. He is already thinking about the next game. His simplistic approach has been successful thus far and his teammates appreciate his calm approach to every game.
“I think the more at-bats he gets he’ll get even more comfortable, which is going to be exciting because he’s already done so well in the beginning of the season,” Stoudt said.
Leary said if players like Rother can maintain this high level of play, he thinks Lehigh can make a run in the playoffs and compete for the championship.
For a player who described Lehigh’s baseball program as a “family atmosphere,” Rother is definitely at home in with his new team.