The BRSN team selects one Cornell athlete each week whose performance stood...
Freshman Feature: Kaleb Lepper
For Kaleb Lepper, a trip to the county fair in his hometown of Liberty Township, Ohio was the beginning of his journey with the game of baseball.
“I picked up a blow-up baseball bat and started swinging it around, and that’s how it got started,” said Lepper.
He would soon realize that baseball was his true passion. Growing up with an older brother who also played the game, Lepper always played an age group ahead, so he could be on his brother’s teams. At Lakota East High School, Lepper was a multi-sport athlete, playing baseball, basketball, and football. He stopped playing basketball because he didn’t enjoy it and eventually stopped football since he was too small for the sport.
“I was always in love with baseball. It was my favorite thing to do,” described Lepper.
The 5’8″, 175 pound Ohio native considered other Ivy League schools and local colleges when deciding where to play baseball. During the recruiting process, Coach Pepicelli invited Lepper to campus, where he was “blown away” by what Cornell had to offer.
“Right away, I fell in love with the campus. It has great academics and a great baseball program — it was just a perfect fit,” stated Lepper.
When asked about how the transition into college has been from an academic and social standpoint, Lepper chuckled and simply replied, “It’s been rough.” As a mechanical engineer, he noted the difficulties of balancing baseball with his academic work, playfully saying, “You might lose a little bit of sleep, but you’ll be fine.” When he does manage to have some free time on campus, Lepper likes to watch Netflix and Youtube to let his body relax. He also enjoys fishing and hanging out with friends.
The transition for the freshman outfielder has been made smoother thanks to the support of his teammates.
“The team has been great, especially to all of the freshmen. They’ve been so good to us, integrating us into the team very well,” explained Lepper.
His favorite memory with the squad thus far was when, one night, the upperclassmen invited the freshmen to one of their houses to watch the movie “Old School.”
On the field, Lepper noticed that the biggest difference between high school and college baseball is the pace of the game.
“There is not a huge talent discrepancy between the teams, so you have to be into every play,” said Lepper. “You have to be very focused. Even if it’s a four game series, you cannot take a play off.”
The freshman outfielder has already made an impact on the field for the Big Red, starting in centerfield and batting leadoff throughout most of March. During this time, he led Cornell in stolen bases and is second in runs scored, while playing centerfield with a 1.000 fielding percentage. However, being immediately elevated into this role was not necessarily something Lepper expected.
“I just came in and gave it my 100 percent effort,”emphatically stated Lepper.
He feels some pressure to perform well because he knows that the seniors want to have a strong final season with the Big Red. Once he steps on the field, though, everything begins to fade away.
“You end up getting into the natural feel of the game,” described Lepper. “It’s just natural baseball.”
He believes his hustle is his best quality as a baseball player. He always gives his full effort in everything he does. When asked about the goals for the team and for himself this season, he mentioned one thing only — an Ivy League championship. Lepper truly believes that the Big Red have the talent to achieve that goal if they stay focused on every pitch and always look ahead with what the coaches call a “windshield mentality.”
After college, Lepper hopes to play baseball at the next level. If that does not work out, he said that he will definitely use his mechanical engineering degree, as engineering is something he truly enjoys as well.