Lisbon catcher Justin Le embraces pitcher Nick Ferrence as third baseman Levi Tibbetts (12) and other teammates come to join them after Ferrence ended a Class C South baseball semifinal win over Oak Hill with a strikeout Saturday in Wales. Wil Kramlich/Sun Journal

The first person to congratulate Lisbon pitcher Nick Ferrence after he recorded a strikeout for the final out of Saturday’s Class C South semifinal was, naturally, catcher Justin Le.

It was also fitting that Le got first dibs.

Lisbon catcher Justin Le sets up to catch a pitch from Nick Ferrence during a Class C South baseball semifinal against Oak Hill on Saturday in Wales. Wil Kramlich/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“Justin is an invaluable asset to this pitching staff,” Lisbon coach Randy Ridley said. “He calls the game, I don’t. He knows what to say if a pitcher is struggling to get them back into a groove. Our pitchers threw five no-hitters this year and two one-hitters; Justin is a huge reason why this happened.”

Ferrence played a part of two of those no-hitters, combining with Mason Booker on one and Levi Tibbetts on the other. Booker and Tibbetts each threw one of their own, as did Hunter Brissette, who pitched the first five innings of Saturday’s semifinal before giving way to Ferrence.

“This group of guys have been playing baseball together since little league, and I have worked with all of our pitchers since then, and having that chemistry with each one really helps with their performance,” Le said.

Next up for fourth-seeded Lisbon (16-2) is a matchup with second-seeded Monmouth (15-3) in the C South title game, at 3 p.m. at St. Joseph’s College in Standish.

Ridley said that developing the pitcher-catcher connection didn’t take long this preseason. Le said the pitching staff didn’t miss a beat from two seasons ago.

Tibbetts, a sophomore, wasn’t around two years ago, when Lisbon won the Class C state championship, but the results (being part of two no-hitters) show that he has fit right into the staff. Ferrence, Booker and Brissette are all juniors, and Le is one of two seniors on the team, along with Neil LaRochelle.

Lisbon catcher Justin Le embraces pitcher Nick Ferrence as third baseman Levi Tibbetts (12) and other teammates come to join them after Ferrence struck out an Oak Hill batter to end a Class C South baseball semifinal Saturday in Wales. Wil Kramlich/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

“(Justin’s) relationship is great with the pitching staff,” Ridley said. “He is part psychologist, he knows when to go out and talk to them or to let them get through adversity on their own. He is always on top of what pitch is working best, and the pitchers trust him behind the plate with his pitch-calling ability and defensive skills.”

Le helped Brissette get through some moments of adversity in Saturday’s semifinal, including three bases-loaded situations. After the game, Brissette said that he was mostly using his fastball in those situations because he didn’t want to create any wild pitches or passed balls with his curveball. However, Le would have been ready had those instances come to fruition. Ridley said one of Le’s biggest strengths is his blocking skills.

“In all aspects of catching, I feel that I need to do my best, and never stop trying,” Le said. “As the catcher of a high-caliber team, I feel a great pride for calling the pitchers and blocking balls and helping my team out as much as possible.”

Le has made sure his defense has been on point even as he has, admittedly, gone through recent offensive slump. He’s hoping to break out of it in Tuesday’s regional final against Monmouth, but if not he’ll still contribute with his catching abilities.

“(In the regional final) Justin will be there to keep our pitchers relaxed and mentally ready for anything that happens at St. Joe’s,” Ridley said. “His experience of being there will help immensely, especially when pressure situations come up. He really seems to have a calming effect on the pitching staff when tough situations arise.”

Le knows Tuesday’s game could be his last as a high school player, but he is going to approach it the same way he has all of his previous games for the Greyhounds.

“My mindset hasn’t changed from day one of freshman year, which is we need to win, no matter the game or who we play, our team needs to take care of business like I know we can,” Le said. “I know this could be my last high school game but, that doesn’t change my mindset of taking care of business.”

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