Old-School Pelletier at New School

After a year coaching the baseball team at Rivendell Academy, Travis Pelletier have moved across the river and south to the same job at Kearsarge. (Valley News - Libby March)

After a year coaching the baseball team at Rivendell Academy, Travis Pelletier have moved across the river and south to the same job at Kearsarge. (Valley News - Libby March)

North Sutton — People who are not purists when it comes to discussing baseball probably would not have an enjoyable conversation with Travis Pelletier. The first-year Kearsarge High baseball coach knows that the game may appear to be slow to some observers, but he understands the importance of every pitch.

“Baseball is an awful mental game,” said Pelletier, who joined the Cougars after coaching one year at Rivendell Academy in Orford. “Everybody at the game has to realize that every pitch can change the outcome. Sometimes that takes a little thinking and a little time.”

Pelletier, 27, played three varsity seasons at Lebanon High School before moving on to Keene State College. He also played summer baseball with the Lebanon American Legion Post 22 program. He didn’t always start when he played, but he always paid attention whether playing or watching. And paying attention to coaches such as Chuck Hunnewelll and Doug Ashey at Lebanon High, Jim Broughton with the Legion program and especially Ken Howe at Keene State started the coaching fires burning.

As a player, Pelletier was a second baseman who said he had a decent bat, “but I prided myself on defense and my passion for the game.”

Perhaps Kearsarge athletic director Scott Fitzgerald best described what kind of coach he thinks Pelletier is when he said, “When we met with Travis, we were very impressed with his approach to coaching, his knowledge of the game and his vision to build a program. His style is that of an ‘old school Lebanon guy,’ which in my book is a category that contains some of the best this state has ever seen because it’s lunch-pail, blue-collar work ethic combined with a passion for competing and using sports as a vehicle to teach valuable life lessons.”

Pelletier coached at Rivendell last spring after being the Lebanon High junior varsity coach the previous four seasons. And his baseball philosophy is simple enough: “Throw strikes, put the ball in play and make the routine plays on defense.”

One area of the game that the Cougars are going to be schooled on is bunting. “I know kids don’t always like to bunt, but bunting is very important,” he said. “If one of my players lays down a successful sacrifice bunt, I expect him to get high fives from everybody when he gets back to the dugout.”

Pelletier hopes to pass his passion for the game to his players. “When I was playing, I was never late for practice and certainly didn’t miss any games,” he said. “I certainly expect the same from my players.

“Players have to have a commitment. I’m not big on statistics, but I am big on heart. I understand physical errors and I will tolerate those kinds of mistakes. Everybody makes physical mistakes, but mental mistakes will make me less tolerant.”

The Kearsarge season is scheduled to start Monday with a home game against Hillsboro-Deering, but Pelletier isn’t confident that will happen. “I don’t think our field will be ready,” he said.

The Kearsarge coach is also dealing with number issues as only 20 kids are out for the sport. Pelletier says there will be a junior varsity program, but some players will have play both varsity and junior varsity to keep the program solvent.

“Unfortunately, we’re seeing more and more of these number issues as the years go by,” said Pelletier.