Jake Lieberman of SCSU baseball team: from bench player to everyday catcher
Philip Zoppi – Sports Writer
Senior Jake Lieberman of Southern’s baseball team went from being a bench player his first two seasons, to now being the Owls’ everyday catcher.
This season Lieberman holds the second-best average on the team with a .282 average, while batting in 35 hits and collecting 16 RBI’s in 32 appearances. Not only that, but Lieberman leads the Owls with a team-high 22 runs.
These statistics started to come for Lieberman after he made one big change to his game throughout his Southern career.
“The biggest thing that I’ve improved on is just being patient and waiting to get my pitch,” said Lieberman. “During freshman year, I would chase pitches early in the count that would put me in a hole. I learned that I need to take advantage of the pitchers’ mistakes, instead of letting myself make the mistake.”
Lieberman’s improvement was very evident during his time at Southern, as he jumped from a .182 average his sophomore year to a .301 average his junior year. A .119 increase in his batting average during that span.
Coach Shea believes Lieberman’s work ethic is what made him the player he is today.
“For the first two years Jake was a backup guy and knew he was going to have to work to earn that starting job,” Shea said. “He put in his time and effort which has made him very successful.”
The hard work and dedication to the game that Lieberman put in didn’t go unnoticed by his teammates, as he was voted team captain for the Owls this season. The Owls, however, have a had a rough season thus as they have a 10-22 overall record on the year.
As the team captain, Lieberman is expected to keep his teammates in good spirits. Coach Shea sees this kind of attitude from Lieberman consistently.
“It’s been a challenging season so far, but he’s always has good energy and is trying to keep things positive in the dugout,” said Shea.
On top of motivating the team, Southern baseball can always rely on Lieberman to be there. Lieberman has appeared in all 32 games this season and has started in 31 of those games. Only Nick Lamberti has recorded more at bats than the captain for the Owls, as Lieberman has stepped up to the plate 124 times thus far.
Going from a bench player, to the team captain and starting role player is not an easy task for a college athlete. Watching Lieberman learn and develop as a player is something Shea is proud of.
Lieberman himself, feels like the relationship between him and his coach has become stronger as time went on.
“Coach Shea and I have gotten really close over the years,” said Lieberman. “I wasn’t a prominent player coming in, but last year as a junior he really gave me a shot to earn that spot behind the plate. We’re able to talk to each other about anything now.”
Lieberman’s baseball career is winding down, as the Owls only have eight games remaining on the schedule. There are certain aspects of baseball that Lieberman is going to miss the most about the sport he’s been playing for so long.
“There’s nothing like getting a ball off the barrel of the bat, knowing you got a base hit, rounding first base and seeing your team cheer for you. Just being out here on the diamond with my teammates is what I’m going to miss the most,” said Lieberman.
The next time to catch Lieberman in action will be against the University of New Haven on April 27, as the catcher along with the rest of the Owls will see the first pitch come in at 3:30 p.m.
Photo Credit: SCSU Athletic Communications