The Lehigh baseball team added 13 freshmen to its roster for the upcoming spring season. The number of freshmen added means approximately a third of the roster will be playing Division I baseball for the first time this year.
Owen Walewander, a freshman catcher, said one of the differences he has noticed between high school and collegiate players is the latter tend to work harder.
“The main difference is just the focus level at practice,” Walewander said. “At Lehigh, the coaches demand a good focus, and we bring that every day.”
Freshman pitcher Cole Leaman said coaches are more involved at college practices. He said at Lehigh, both coaches and players push him to work harder and improve more.
“Using the upperclassmen has been the biggest way to help adjust,” Leaman said.
The baseball team has announced significant changes to the coaching staff over the course of this summer and the beginning of the school year, including a new pitching coach, hitting coach and first base coach. In addition to these staffing changes, Mason Black, former Lehigh pitcher and 85th overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, has been hired as Director of Operations for this fall and winter, before resuming his professional baseball career in February.
The Mountain Hawks ended their 2022 season with 26 wins, their most since 2006. The team’s season ended in a loss against Bucknell in the Patriot League Semifinals.
Walewander said, in practice so far this preseason, the team has reviewed situational defensive plays and the players are getting used to playing and being around each other. He said, as a catcher, he has primarily caught bullpens from the pitchers.
Jack Frankovic, freshman outfielder and pitcher, said, during practice, he practices hitting and outfield plays and if he has time, he tries to practice with pitchers.
Frankovic said sleeping more helps prepare him for collegiate practices and the higher level of energy they require.
“I’m always going to bed whenever I can, at 10:00, 10:30,” Frankovic said.
Frankovic said a normal day consists of going to class, taking a short nap after class, going to Goodman Campus to hit before practice, practicing with the team, eating at a dining hall for dinner, studying at the library and then going to sleep.
Frankovic said to better prepare himself for games in the spring, he has done a lot of stretching and arm exercises.
“Most of my stretching and arm care stuff is forearm and tricep-related just to support my UCL and my elbow,” Frankovic said.
Frankovic said he had a UCL injury over the summer and had been doing physical therapy to help rehab the injury.
Despite a large portion of the roster’s inexperience and a fresh coaching staff, the Mountain Hawks will look to claim a spot in the Patriot League Tournament for the third year in a row in the 2023 season.