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Freshman Feature: Utility Man Josh Arndt Looks to Make Impact with Bat, Attitude

Just the thought of moving across the country to the icy tundra known as Ithaca, New York is enough to strike fear into most west coast natives. Josh Arndt, born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, is not your typical west coast native. Since arriving at Cornell last August, the freshman has taken every challenge that he’s faced, from the faster pace of life to the frigid winter weather, in stride.

His year so far is perhaps best symbolized by a practice that took place just a few days before February break. On the night of the first true snow storm of the semester, Arndt and the rest of the baseball team were practicing on Hoy Field when the snow began to fall. “You’re out on the field, and everything’s so competitive,” Arndt recounts, “and then this snow comes out and everyone transforms from being super focused to saying ‘oh my god, it’s snowing! Let’s build a snowman!’”

And so the team did. Instead of running inside to get out of the weather, Arndt and the rest of the team built a snowman directly on top of home plate, embracing the opportunity and making the most of it, just as Arndt has done repeatedly throughout his freshman year. Josh added that in addition to being a “really cool experience,” no pun intended, “it’s moments like that that make [him] really appreciate the team and the game.”

Arndt’s love of baseball first began when he was “barely old enough to walk.” He recalls, “there was a whiffle ball bat laying around, so I just picked it up and started swinging.” Baseball also runs in his family, as his dad played junior college baseball at Orange Coast Community College, the same school that junior transfer Cole Rutherford attended before coming to Cornell.

A three-year starter in high school, Arndt really excelled his senior season which he called a “culmination of the hard work from years before.” In addition to batting .455 and driving in 38 runs as the number three hitter in a potent Arcadia High School lineup, he was named section player of the year, made the Arizona Division 2 All-Star team, and of course excelled academically. Arndt played third base in high school, but he’s listed as an outfielder on the official Big Red roster. Says Josh, “I’ve really bounced around all over the place.” He’s capable of playing a number of positions, as he’s practiced at second base, third base, left field, and right field, but would be willing to play anywhere, so long as he can contribute to the team.

In talking about his decision to come to Cornell, Ardnt began by explaining that he “always knew [he] wanted to use baseball to get into a highly rated academic school.” He then said that after playing in a number of different showcases and sending out game tape to various schools, he received a “positive response from Cornell,” and the college was really a natural fit. Along with a competitive baseball team, the university has a world-class engineering program (Arndt is studying Mechanical Engineering), and the school is located in a more rural area than some of the other schools Josh was considering.

If there was one word used to describe Arndt’s attitude on the upcoming season it would be ‘excited’. “The team’s in really great shape,” Josh explained. “The coaching change has brought a lot of extra energy, and the team has really picked up on that and they’ve been driven to get even better.” Even though it’s only his first year on the hill, he said that it’s been “exciting to see the transformation, just from the fall until now.” Like many, Arndt has high hopes for the season, and with three wins in their first six games, there’s certainly plenty of reason to believe in the Big Red this year.

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