Casey Lehman is no novice to the softball field, but she took in her first game as a Forester this season.
But Lehman’s youth has yet to show in her stat lines this season.
The green catcher is leading her team in several major categories: batting average, RBIs and hits—to name a few. She ranks 37th in the nation for total doubles, of which she’s tallied. Her name can also be found on the list of top-25 batting averages in the Crossroads League, and she’s the only freshman in the conference who can make that claim.
Lehman, however, is accustomed to greatness. She dedicated her high school off seasons to playing for the highly-touted travel team, Indiana Magic Gold.
“My teammates were going anywhere from North Carolina to Purdue to IU,” she said.
Lehman’s sister, Erin, is a senior utility player for Indiana University this season.
“I grew up striving to be like her and to play with her level of passion on the field,” Lehman said.
Her family has always been crucial in Lehman’s playing career. She picked up the sport at age five, and by the time she was in middle school, she had abandoned volleyball and basketball to stick with her favorite — softball.
Lehman’s travel team was a family affair with her parents sharing the coaching responsibilities. Her grandparents followed along the schedule for nearly 14 years, attending nearly every game.
“The support I received from my family is what kept me going on the weekends,” she said. “I had to play softball and miss something fun one of my friends invited me to. I always thought I was missing out on so much, but now I know it was worth it.”
Lehman began feeling the pressure of college recruiting as she watched her teammates sign with big schools and as she tallied the commitment she’d logged over the years.
“I was constantly stressing about whether or not I’d play softball at a big Division I school like my teammates,” she said.
Lehman began wondering if the path of collegiate softball was the right fit for her any more after a few difficult weekends of no teams contacting her or showing any interest.
“My dad heard about a small Christian college that could use me as their catcher, so that’s how I ended up here at Huntington,” she said. “I knew it was the right choice as I was leaving here after my visit.”
Lehman signed on early to Huntington in November of her senior year.
“It was definitely not what I imagined for myself, but I love it and wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” she said.
Despite speaking favorably about her softball experience—which included two conference championships—before putting on the Forester jersey, Lehman spews about Huntington as if it’s all lead up to this moment.
“My HU softball experience has been nothing short of amazing,” she said. “I’ve had more fun in this year of softball than all my other years combined.”
Her teammates and coaches have formed a great support system already, she said. The team’s trip to Phoenix, Arizona, over spring break helped the team bond and has been the highlight of her freshman season. Several upperclassmen have demonstrated how to play the game Lehman loves while also glorifying God.
“It’s amazing how things changed when I began to play to glorify God rather than myself,” she said.
With the intangibles in place as a member of a different roster, Lehman has been able to focus on her familiar role on the field. As catcher, she has an important spot to fill.
“I see the entire field and know what’s going on, so it’s my responsibility to always be talking and be the leader,” she said. “I also love that I get the ball every play because I stay engaged the entire game.”
Lehman said she’s prepared for this responsibility since age eight, when she began taking personal lessons with catching instructor Roger Nickleson.
“He has absolutely made me the catcher I am today,” she said. “I now know what hard work is and how to never sell myself short while taking on such a tough position.”
As Lehman and the Foresters entered their final weekend of regular season play, they positioned themselves in fourth place in the conference with a 25-16-1. Lehman has her eyes set on qualifying for Nationals. Regardless, she wants to maintain the composure she’s built throughout her time behind the plate—this season and the next.
“Individually, my goal is to continue being a leader on and off the field and to stay positive no matter how I’m performing,” she said.