Seymour senior stays busy on basketball court, baseball field


R.J. Kleber always looks forward to going to the Lloyd E. Scott Gymnasium or American Legion Field to improve his skills.

He doesn’t have much time between sports, as baseball workouts start before basketball season is over.

He is in his fourth season of basketball with the Owls, and in the spring, he will start his fourth baseball season.

“Practices are very important,” Kleber said. “It gets you ready for the games. Practices should be harder than the games. I have gotten used to jumping right into another sport over the years.”

He said he was 5 when he began playing both sports.

The Seymour High School senior is a guard on the basketball team and plays second base for the baseball team.

“I enjoy playing with my friends in basketball, and I love the competition that the sport brings,” Kleber said. “I would rather drive for a layup than shoot a 3-pointer, but if the defense helps over, I’ll pass it to one of my guys for a shot.”

His high-point games have been 14 against Jennings County, 12 against Switzerland County and 10 against Columbus East.

“I’m more of a ball handler when I’m on the court,” Kleber said. “I’m right-handed, and I would rather face man defense when we play. I like playing man defense. I feel like we are more successful in man because we can force a lot of turnovers because we are pretty quick.”

On the schedule, Kleber looks forward to the home games.

“It’s fun to play in one of the biggest gyms around,” Kleber said. “It’s nice having the band there and the student section supporting us.”

He said he enjoys having a brother, Brandon, on the team.

Kleber said when basketball season is completed, he looks forward to baseball and working in the indoor facility.

“In the indoor building for baseball, we work on a lot on hitting and bunting,” Kleber said. “We can also use the board upstairs and work on defense.”

He looks forward to the annual Victory Field Challenge at the beginning of the season.

“During the Victory Field Challenge, I love the competition between the team,” Kleber said. “It helps a lot with team bonding. We look out for each other.”

He started at second base last spring and plans on handling that position again this season.

“Communication on defense is very important during baseball,” Kleber said. “You have to let the infield know what we are doing in certain situations so everyone knows where to go. On fly balls, communication is key because you have to know who is going to catch the ball because if no one calls it, then two players could run into each other.”

Kleber began last season in the No. 2 batting position before moving around in the order.

“I would like to bat second again. If I do bat second, I do feel like I’m a pretty good bunter,” Kleber siad. “When I’m batting, I’m a selective hitter and try to be a situational hitter, too. I always look for a first-pitch fastball, and then if it’s not a fastball, I usually don’t swing. Staying ahead in the count helps a lot because you usually know what pitch is going to come next.”

Kleber has set the bar high for himself and the team.

“My goals in the spring are to repeat my golden glove (defense award) and to make all-conference,” Kleber said. “My team goals are to win the sectional and win the Hoosier Hills Conference Tournament.”

He said athletes need to keep a positive outlook in all sports.

“The mental part of sports is a huge factor in any sport,” Kleber said. “You have to believe in yourself and not be afraid to make a mistake. You have to believe in your teammates, too, because you can’t do it without them.”

He said he has received a good education attending SHS.

“I have enjoyed attending SHS,” Kleber said. “The teachers and coaches have been very good to me, and I have learned a lot from the teachers and have gotten good education from them.”

Kleber plans on attending Mount Vernon Nazarene University in Ohio and playing baseball there.

[sc:pullout-title pullout-title=”Kleber file” ][sc:pullout-text-begin]

Name: R.J. Kleber

High school: Seymour

Parents: Kris and Courtney Kleber

Siblings: Brandon and Brett

Sports: Basketball, four years; baseball, four years

Athletic highlights: In basketball, freshman most valuable player award, junior varsity MVP award; in baseball, golden glove award

Organizations: Latin Club, First Baptist Church youth group

Plans after high school: Attend Mount Vernon Nazarene University and play baseball

Favorite food: Steak

Favorite singer: Lil Uzi Vert

Favorite team: Ohio State


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