New Mt. Blue baseball coach Ben Davis follows through during a practice drill in Farmington last season, when he was the progam’s junior varsity coach. (Sun Journal photo by Tony Blasi)

When the Mt. Blue baseball team returns this season, players should be prepared to get an education from their new head coach, who is determined to raise the Cougars’ baseball I.Q.

Ben Davis — a 17-year U.S. Air Force veteran — takes over for the departing Stephen Lancaster after coaching the junior varsity the past season.

“I have nothing but the utmost respect and plenty of love for Stephen Lancaster when it comes to baseball,” Davis said.

The first-year head coach has an ambitious plan involving several coaches in the community to help turn players into baseball thinkers.

“The program needs help and I am not a miracle worker,” Davis said. “I make no promises, but the kids want it and the program needs help. That’s it.

“I can draw back from the 11 years I have done online. The baseball team has had a losing season every one of those years.”

Mt. Blue athletic director Chad Brackett liked what he saw in Davis and his plan to turn around the program.

“Ben has passion for baseball, but more specifically baseball in the local area,” Brackett said. “This and his realistic long-term plan for our entire area baseball program distinguished him from other applicants.

“Ben coached the JV team here last season and did a fantastic job. He also played a huge role in coaching the varsity team last year. We are so thankful for what coach Lancaster did to get us going in the right direction over the last two seasons. Coach Davis brings both a continuity of this development as well as his own direction to the program. We are very excited to see what we can do on the baseball field this spring.”

Davis wants to bring back some of the prosperity that the Cougars enjoyed when he was a student at Mt. Blue.

“I went to Mt. Blue in the mi-1990s and we had a good program … we were always there in a lot of sports and it is just — whatever happened, the demographics — I am not really sure,” Davis said. “We had a lot of losing seasons — and I will tell you one more stat even though there is a bunch of them. This is impressive in a dubious kind of way is that we are ranked — I think there are 87 programs in the state — we are ranked 87th in runs allowed and runs scored. We are the worst in the state and that is going to be talked about really to get people’s attention — mainly the players. That’s where we are at.”

Brackett said he was sold on Davis’s laid-back approach to coaching athletes at this level

“I really like the smooth manner by which Ben communicates his solid expectations to student-athletes and parents,” Brackett said. “He is easy to talk to about baseball and the role it plays in these young mens lives.”

Davis understands that every school’s sports program faces competition with each other in every season.

“Every school battles with other sports in that season,” Davis said. “Since I was a student there, we’ve added tennis — and of course I think that’s great to generate that diversity for the kids to have that option; I am not a big tennis fan, but I am glad for the kids who want to play tennis — and that is in the spring, too.”

Davis has found that a majority of baseball enthusiasts agree that the game is 80 to 90 percent mental acuity, and that is why he wants the Cougars’ heads in the game.

“What I’ve noticed in Farmington is the boys want it, but we have a lack of instruction,” Davis said. “I can only speak about the community in Farmington because this is my first coaching experience with organized baseball, but I find a lack of mental game instruction, which is really a fine line between that and life instruction in general.”

Davis wants to pass along that instruction to his players on and off the field.

“Starting with the mental game, quite simply, basic fundamentals and execution and all these things we want to do on the field and on the court, they really can’t happen unless your head is there,” Davis said. “What you need to know is baseball is a game of failure. It starts with a mental game and that’s what I am going to push, first and foremost.

“I started last year when the season ended. I started building a playbook from scratch for the program because we didn’t have it — and it was sort of here’s what we can do if you want … but I built an entire program. And so in the community … I have a brain-trust, a nucleus of adults in the community that I am relying on and they are relying on me. You know this is not done by one person. I have four or five adults who are very like-minded and see eye-to-eye, and a very good relationship with coaches from Little League all the way up to Babe Ruth.”

Davis’ plan is to hand out a continuity book to the coaches and then discuss the game plan with them, with the idea of adding more to the book. He is hoping that what he teaches at Mt. Blue will be passed on down to the those baseball players in the lower leagues, which should make Davis’s job much easier when they begin playing for the Cougars.

“I will be relying on these four or five guys, so it is a total team effort,” Davis said.

“Coach Davis just lives and breathes baseball,” Brackett said. “It is as much a part of who he is as his eye color. Baseball is not what he does. It is who he is.

“Last year he brought new drills and ideas to the team that began the improvement process. He will build off from that development this spring.”

New Mt. Blue baseball coach Ben Davis follows through during a practice drill in Farmington last season, when he was the progam’s junior varsity coach. (Sun Journal photo by Tony Blasi)

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