A.J. Miller, the Lehigh baseball hitting coach and recruiting coordinator, said he jokes to his first-year players that they have about a week to be freshmen.
After that, they are viewed as real players on the team, who are held to the same standards as the upperclassmen who have played on the team for years before them.
This message resonated quickly with freshman designated hitter Andrew Nole
Nole has already stepped up in several key moments and delivered for his team. In 59 at-bats in his first season as a Mountain Hawk, he is batting .262 with 15 hits and 16 RBIs.. In a game against Navy on April 3, Nole hit two home runs, helping his team to a 5-1 victory and a series clinch over Navy for the first time since 2006.
The Landenberg, Pennsylvania, native was named the Patriot League Rookie of the Week for his performance the week of April 6 after the series with Navy.
“Out of the gate, I just wanted to prove myself,” Nole said. “I was working really hard, putting in a lot of time. I’m really happy that Coach Leary gave me the opportunity to be in the designated hitter spot and get a chance to prove myself. I was as confident as I could be, and I’m really happy with the outcomes.”
Miller previously worked for a travel baseball organization, where he oversaw nearly twenty travel teams. He said he met Nole through this position even before the recruiting process began.
He said when he returned to Lehigh, he identified Nole as someone who could make an impact on the program.
“From the time I first saw him play, which I think was his freshman or sophomore year in high school, I knew that he was going to have the chance to be pretty special, especially with the bat,” Miller said. “Just a pure left-handed swing with serious power potential, and he’s a bright kid as well. So, when I came back to Lehigh the second time as the recruiting coordinator, Andrew (Nole) was a guy that was immediately on my mind for somebody that we should potentially recruit.”
Nole has quickly meshed with his teammates off the field, too.
In a year where teammates can not be around each other as much as in an ordinary season, team chemistry can be difficult, especially with newcomers. However, Nole has proven himself as a solid player already and has gained the respect of his upperclassmen as a teammate off the field.
“He’s one of the best kids,” said junior infielder Chase Carlson. “He’s actually one of the most team-first guys we have. If you ask him to do something, he’ll do it. Definitely very coachable, very respectful, probably one of my favorite guys off the field from a personal standpoint.”While this season has posed obstacles of different sorts, with many uncertainties coming into the 2021 season, Nole said the coaching staff did a good job of keeping everyone’s mind in the right place.
Nole said he particularly made an effort to stay positive about everything after having his final high school season derailed last spring.
“I mean, I didn’t want to have a negative outlook on this,” Nole said. “I already had my senior season ruined and so I came in here with a positive attitude. Under the circumstances, it’s going really well. The team makes it worth it. The guys are really good dudes to be with and I’m glad we’re playing this year.”
Miller said Nole has emerged as one of the leaders among the freshmen on the team, and said he is not afraid to speak up when needed.
Miller added that he is looking forward to seeing Nole’s development over the course of his Lehigh career.
“I’m excited to see his potential – not only as a baseball player but as a young man – continue to grow over these next couple of years,” Miller said.