Lisbon catcher Nick Lerette shows the ball to the home plate umpire after tagging out Carrabec’s Jacob Atwood during the third inning of the Greyhounds’ 4-2 win in Lisbon in June 2016.

Lisbon catcher Nick Lerette shows the ball to the home plate umpire after tagging out Carrabec’s Jacob Atwood during the third inning of the Greyhounds’ 4-2 win in Lisbon in June 2016.

Whether he’s behind the plate or standing beside it, Lisbon senior Nick Lerette likes to be in control.

A three-year starter at catcher, Lerette has enough of Greyhounds’ coach Randy Ridley’s trust to call pitches, make defensive calls and keep Lisbon’s veteran pitching staff on its game.

As their cleanup hitter, he is the Greyhounds’ toughest out, leading the team with a .447 average and a .552 on-base percentage. He is particularly tough with two strikes, stubbornly unwilling to let a pitcher, or an umpire, determine the outcome of any at-bat.

“As a little kid, I was taught to never leave it up to blue,” he said. “If it’s anything I feel like I can get the bat on, I’m swinging at it, if only to get a foul ball out of it and get another swing.”

“He’s always been a very patient hitter,” Ridley said. “He very rarely swings at a first-pitch strike. He’s very confident. His swing is so fluid that when he’s on it, he’s going to drive it somewhere.”

Lerette revels in hitting cleanup because he knows the top of the order will usually get on base in front of him. More often than not, he’ll take advantage of an opportunity to drive them in. He has 27 RBIs this year in 18 games.

“I always felt more comfortable in the four hole,” he said. “Last year, I started out there and hit pretty well, and about midway through the season I got dropped down to the fifth spot and I did all right. But I always felt more comfortable in the four spot.”

A big part of Lerette’s job as a catcher is to make the Greyhounds’ pitchers comfortable. With a diverse collection of personalities and pitching styles, that requires some flexibility in terms of how he calls a game and how he helps a pitcher overcome not having his best stuff.

“It’s been really fun catching Tyler (Halls), Lucas (Francis) and Rylee (Austin) the last couple of years,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot about the key pitching differences and how I call a game. It’s a different mindset for every pitcher that comes in.”

Ridley refers to Lerette as a field general because of his knowledge of the game and his pitching staff. His confidence in his catcher to call the pitches, set up the defense in running and bunting situations and act as the staff’s psychiatrist allows him to put more of the game in Lerette’s hands.

“I don’t have to go out to the mound very often because if a pitcher is in trouble, he will go out there and take care of it,” Ridley said. “He can see what’s going on as well or better than I can from the dugout. He’s got a great feel for the game. I trust him to make the calls.”

“It’s a lot of trust that he’s put in me, and I take it very seriously,” Lerette said. 

He controls the opposition’s running game, too, having thrown out 16 would-be base stealers and picking off five more. He’s allowed just two passed balls all year.

Like a lot of catchers, Lerette has catching in his blood. His father, Kevin, caught for Lisbon in the early 1990s and started coaching Nick when he was 5 years old. Even after tearing a meniscus in his right knee when he was 8, Nick couldn’t wait to get back behind the plate.

He hopes to continue playing in college. But when he enrolls at Southern Maine Community College next fall, Lerette, who is a junior firefighter, will focus on studying fire sciences and see if he has the free time to continue with baseball.

He’ll be putting on the catcher’s equipment at least one more time, as the top-seeded Greyhounds will face No. 6 Monmouth Academy in the Class C South championship game (6:30 p.m. Wednesday, St. Joseph’s College).

It is Lisbon’s second straight trip to the regional final, having lost to eventual state champion Sacopee Valley in last year’s game. A win would send the Greyhounds to their first state championship game since 1988.

“Our mindset all year long has been to get back to this point,” Lerette said. “We’re all excited to be back where we were last year, but that outcome wasn’t what we wanted.  Now our mindset is to get to the state game.”


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