Lehigh baseball sophomore pitcher Cole Leaman throws a pitch from the mound. The Lehigh baseball team defeated Delaware State University at home on March 26, 2024, at Legacy Park. (Courtesy of Maria Bouchard)

Lehigh pitcher Cole Leaman earns starting role


Sophomore pitcher Cole Leaman, a native of nearby Reading, Pennsylvania, has become one of the top starters for the Lehigh baseball team. 

After appearing in 16 games in his first year and making only one start, Leaman has transitioned to a full-time starter, leading the charge for the Mountain Hawks as they start the season 15-8-1. 

“Last year, we were using him in what I would call the learning and high-leverage situations,” coach Sean Leary said. “Combined with his work ethic and dedication, the last nine months has put him in a situation where now he gets to start on weekends.”

Leaman boasts a 2.40 ERA and 22 strikeouts, ranking second on the team in both categories.

Leaman now has a versatile pitching arsenal, including a four-seam fastball, sinker, curveball and cutter. His fastball currently has an average velocity of 92 mph and has topped out at 97 mph. 

Leaman’s decision to pitch at Lehigh started in his basement when he began researching the school while stuck in his house with COVID-19. 

“It was a weird recruiting process because of COVID,” Leaman said. “I got COVID and was stuck in my basement for a week. Versus all the other schools I was talking to, Lehigh was better to me than those other ones.”

He came to Lehigh and took a tour with then-senior Ryan Diem. After showing him around campus, Leaman had seen enough and called Leary to tell him that he was committing. 

On the mound, junior pitcher Alex Bouchard described him as someone who wants to compete and pitch late into games if needed. 

Growing up, Leaman took the advice of his father, who wanted Cole to model his baseball mentality after Phillies All-Star second baseman Chase Utley, a player known during his career for his hustle and grit. 

“When I was little, and as I continued to play baseball, he would say ‘If Chase Utley could do it, you could do it. If Chase Utley wouldn’t do it, you can’t do it,’” Leaman said. 

This encouragement included aspects of the game such as sportsmanship and hustling down the first base line after putting the ball in play. 

Bouchard praised Leaman’s positive work attitude and personable demeanor off the field. 

“He’s one of my best friends on the team,” Bouchard said. “We love talking about sports or pitching mechanics or just everyday stuff. He’s a really good competitor, he’s a fast learner, he’s always looking to get better and take ideas from everyone on the pitching staff.

Leary noted Leaman is very analytical about how he approaches the game.

“He’s always looking for that last 5% of what he can do in the gym, or with his nutrition, or with his (mechanics),” Leary said. “(He’s) very driven and very inquisitive when it comes to that side of things.” 

At Lehigh, he plans to major in economics with a minor in Spanish. His interest in the language came from playing baseball in some Latin American countries. 

“When I was younger, we did some traveling as a family and ended up in Cuba for a week playing baseball and played a week in Puerto Rico,” Leaman said. “I came home wanting to know Spanish because in both of those places, you could communicate, we spoke one language the same and we both spoke baseball.” 

Speaking Spanish fluently has always been a life goal for Leaman since he was a kid. 

Going forward, Leaman will be looked at as someone who will set the tone for the team on weekends when he starts. 

“We’re looking for him to put that extra level of sort of what he can do beyond just pitching for us,” Leary said. “It’s like, he goes down, he does really well, it gives the other pitchers the roadmap of how to do and attack hitters.”

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