Wisdom High School baseball prepares for busy season
by Monique Labbe
Apr 16, 2011 | 769 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ryan Blanchette at practice.  
- SJVT photo / Monique Labbe
Ryan Blanchette at practice. - SJVT photo / Monique Labbe
ST. AGATHA - April 6 edition - It is a time-honored tradition among spring sports teams in the St. John Valley to take part in indoor practices. Indoor batting cages are set up in the school gym, sneakers are put on instead of baseball cleats, plywood boards are put in front of windows as a precaution, and coaches cringe at the sound of a baseball slamming against the hardwood basketball court. Yes indeed, it is spring preseason in the Valley.

“It’s so difficult to have spring sports up here,” said Kevin Lavoie, head coach of the Wisdom Pioneers baseball team at practice on Monday. “We literally have a game every other day this season, and there are a couple weeks where we have two games back to back. It’s tough.”

The Pioneers, who finished in sixth place in the Class D East overall standings last year before losing 4-3 to Southern Aroostook in the quarterfinals, have almost the same team as last season, according to Lavoie.

“We have seven seniors this year,” said Lavoie. “Hopefully we can continue what we did last year and make it to states. That's our goal.”

Baseball season kicks off April 14 this year, but due to the amount of snow on the fields, Wisdom and the other teams in the Valley throw their first game pitches starting the last week of April.

Because of this, teams will play close to 15 games in a month's time. This tight schedule leaves little time for practices, a hurdle Lavoie says is always difficult to get over.

“We learn on the fly,” said Lavoie. “If we see something in a game we need to fix, chances are we'll have to fix it in the next game instead of working on it during practice.”

Returning to the Pioneers this season is senior pitcher Curtis Picard. Picard was a pivotal accessory to Wisdom's success in the 2010 season, and Lavoie is confident he will be crucial to this season's team as well.

New to the team is freshman Nathan Boynton.

“He pitched in the younger leagues for me last year, and because of his size (he is nearly 6 feet 2 inches as a freshman) he can put a lot behind a pitch,” said Lavoie.

As the team heads into the season in a couple of weeks, they are hopeful that their season can mirror last year's, with only one change: Get to the state championship.