Baseball Freshman Feature: Austin Flematti
Though Austin has played baseball since age six, four years of high school proved particularly formative. He played for an elite, competitive high school team — the best team in the area, Austin confirmed. This meant games twice a week for a 35-game season, an intense coach that demanded a high level of play and many players with plans beyond high school. Remarkably, Austin’s high school team, the Kingwood High School Mustangs, produced six college-bound players in his year. Austin, however, was the only one to head to the icy north and the Ivy League. All of this, he and the team accomplished, despite Hurricane Harvey wiping out Kingwood High School, home to over 2,500 students, in 2017.
While challenging, Austin attributes his high school play to a large degree of his success. Indeed, it garnered him plenty of accolades. In high school, Austin was named to first team all-district in baseball and second-team in football. He earned an academic all-state honorable mention and was ranked #26 among Texas catchers in a competitive state, and #349 nationally. Despite his talent, it wasn’t until his junior year that he decided to play college ball. Armed with that determination, Austin caught the eye of Cornell head coach, Dan Pepicelli. With the loss of phenom catcher Ellis Bitar, Cornell needed a catcher badly and Austin was Coach Pep’s pick. With an offer pending from the Big Red, Austin had to decide quickly. Ultimately, the attraction of playing Division I baseball at a school that also offered a top-notch education was enough to win him over.
“I’m a math and science guy,” Austin offered when asked about his academic focus. His favorite class last semester was Introduction to Computer Science. So far, he is right at home with three other Baseball freshmen in the College of Engineering. That sums to a full one-third of the team committed to the quantitative rigors of Cornell’s engineering program. Austin is unsure (understandably) where his mechanical engineering degree with take him after graduation, though he noted his brother is just starting out in Salt Lake City in an engineering position. Both boys’ love for skiing plays no small role in their appreciation for the northern states as quality ski hills are hard to come by in sunny Houston. Of course, all of this will come second to Austin’s pursuit of a Major League opportunity, which a few recent Cornellians have found success with.
Austin compares his new team at Cornell to his earlier teams favorably. He finds the Big Red baseball program to be more focused and driven than high school teams, with the guys working hard and committed to winning games. Coach Pepicelli reminds Austin of his high school coach: serious and to the point, but a bit more level-headed. As for this season, Austin hopes to help the team to an Ivy League Championship, though he’d be happy with any playoff opportunity. In the short-term, he is excited to return home to Texas for the team’s season opening at Baylor University in Waco, Texas. The freshman catcher may have the biggest cheering squad of the whole team with family and friends planning to attend. All of us, though, hope to see Austin march out to his walkup song, “Boulevard of Broken Dreams” early and often this season.