By Chris Chaney
Batavia High School announced that Austin Lenhardt would continue his baseball and scholastic career at the University of Northwestern Ohio in Lima, and last week, the senior shortstop made it official by signing his Letter of Intent.
“It’s all we’ve been working at, to get our kids to play baseball,” Charlie Lenhardt, Austin’s father, said, whose other son, David, signed two years ago to play baseball at Northern Kentucky University.
“He’s worked really hard and put a ton of effort into it,” Kim Lenhardt, Austin’s mother, added.
The senior co-captain is coming off a record-breaking junior season in which he hit .521 with a .611 on-base percentage, knocked in 18 runs and added to his all-time school record with 24 stolen bases.
“It’s a big deal,” Batavia head coach Geoff Carter said. “It’s something I’m proud of, especially with a small school. Any kind of college-level athletes that you can get out of there, you’re definitely proud of.
“It’s been cool because I’ve seen him since he was a freshman and this is my first cycle of kids (that I’ve coached), so I’m really close to the seniors and I think he’s the first of a few to sign.”
It was Lenhardt’s speed and work ethic that caught the eye of University of Northwestern Ohio head coach Kory Hartman, but Carter is pleased that he will have Austin around for another season in Batavia.
“He’s the fastest player on our team and probably the fastest player to come out of (Batavia), besides his brother, and that’s his game,” Carter said. “He’s got speed and range, he likes to hit to all fields. He’s probably one of the better fielders, if not the best fielder, in the league and he’s a good hitter as well.”
The Lenhardts and Coach Carter all said that UNO, the players, coaches, complex and school are a perfect fit for Austin.
“They were like a family up there,” Austin Lenhardt said. “The whole coaching staff was great and the offer was just too good to pass up. They have a great complex and it’s just perfect for me.”
Lenhardt was recruited while playing summer ball for the Flash Baseball organization, but has since moved to play for Midwest Prospects.
Following his final year at Batavia, Lenhardt plans on making an immediate impact for the Racers.
“I’m expecting to come in and make an impact early,” Austin said. “I’m supposed to be playing shortstop up there, but I’m coming in behind a senior, so I’m hoping to get some playing time around the middle infield (in my freshman season).”
First things first, however, Lenhardt has some unfinished business to take care of at Batavia.
“I think we can go further in the tournament (this year),” Lenhardt said. “We shouldn’t have lost when we did last year, but I think we should go pretty far.”
As far as individually, Lenhardt wants to continue his streak of garnering All-League honors that started as a Second Teammer as a freshman and a First Team selection every year since. He would also like to be recognized as All-City and All-State, but it’s team first for Lenhardt.
“This is the team, if there ever was one, that’s going to make a run,” Carter said.
And if the Bulldogs can make that run, Lenhardt will be a major part of it.