Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Justin Lebron: The freshman phenomenon leading Alabama baseball

CW / Hayden Hutchison
Alabama baseball player Justin Lebron prepares to swing against Samford at Sewell-Thomas Stadium in Tuscaloosa, AL on April 25, 2024.

The 2023 Alabama baseball team had multiple key players graduate, transfer and enter the MLB draft, but it’s still putting up a competitive 2024 season. Much of this is due to the help of newcomer Justin Lebron.

Alabama made an impressive impact in the 2023 postseason.  Just over a month after the dismissal of former head coach Brad Bohannon, the Crimson Tide locked up its first 40-win season since 2010, its first regional hosting spot since 2006 and its first super regional appearance since 2010. The run stopped just short of the College World Series, but it was the first time Alabama came within two wins of Omaha in 13 years.

A shortstop from Southwest Ranches, Florida, Lebron signed with Alabamahis senior year of high school in 2022. That season he helped his team win the 5A district championship.

Lebron started the first three games of 2024 at shortstop and has been Alabama’s go-to for the position since. He earned SEC Freshman of the Week following the opening weekend matchup against Manhattan College. 

Head coach Rob Vaughn expressed his gratitude for having Lebron on the team.

“I’m fortunate enough to get to coach him every day, even though I didn’t recruit him,” Vaughn said. 

Lebron’s outstanding performance this season has been a key factor for the Crimson Tide’s success. He leads the SEC with 137 assists while making numerous highlight reel-worthy plays from his shortstop position. He ranks second on the team in batting average at .340, which is also good for 13th in the SEC. He is tied for second on the team and 11th in the conference with 69 hits, including a team high of 41 in conference play that tied for sixth among league bats.

Lebron was named to the All-SEC first team and was the only Alabama player on either the first or second team. 

Reflecting on his experience playing in the SEC, he shared how it has impacted his confidence and work ethic. 

“Playing in the SEC is a really big job for a lot of players and it’s often very competitive,” Lebron said. “But it just helped me gain confidence.”

Lebron has also learned from his upperclassmen teammates, like right fielder Evan Sleight, who has played a large role in Lebron’s successful year. Sleight expressed his admiration and encouragement for the young shortstop, highlighting his impressive performance as a freshman in the SEC.

“I tell him all the time I’m so proud of him,” Sleight said. “As a freshman, especially in the SEC, it’s extremely challenging, but the way he goes about his business every day is just incredible.”

As Lebron is entering his first college postseason, a lot of eyes are on him and what he brings to this Crimson Tide baseball team. Instead of focusing on himself and his future accomplishments individually, Lebron referred to his team, expressing how he only had one thing on his mind: getting to the College World Series. 

“We’re trying to get this team to go to Omaha, ” he said. “I know that’s not a singular person. It’s a team job. But as long as we all play our little part, we can always obviously do a big thing.”

More to Discover