© Republican-American, 6/17/2008
At 11 o’clock in the morning the day after his last baseball game of the season for UConn, Pierre LePage was home in Wolcott relaxing the best way he knew how: playing baseball in the Tri-State Baseball League for the Wolcott Scrappers. While other freshman may return from the rigors of their first long college season needing to step away from the game for a few weeks at least, LePage hustled right back into the thick of the action. Hustled being the operative word. At 5-foot-7, 155 pounds, LePage realized long ago that he has to make his impact on the game through dynamic determination and spirit. So even during summer league games that are considerably more relaxed than Big East basbeall, LePage sprints on and off the field every half inning and plays with incredible intensity.
“I feel that by keeping my routine, no matter what the situation is, keeps me on an even keel and reminds me to keep doing the same things and taking the same approach whether I am 0 – 10 or 8 – 10. That helps me feel relaxed and confident.” Confident enough that when the Huskies junior starting second baseman struggled over the first four games, LePage stepped in. He walked as a pinch hitter in the fourth game and earned a start in the fifth. He then went on a 16 game hit streak that secured a starter’s role for him and finished the season leading UConn in batting average (.341), hits (71), runs scored (55), doubles (14), stolen bases (19) and assists (158).
“When you see him play over time, you really appreciate him, because it is not a show. He is playing hard as he can all the time, and that makes up for a lot” said UConn baseball coach Jim Penders. In and age when even congress is trying to legislate abuses in the game by guys using illegal substances to get bigger and stronger, LePage just plays bigger naturally. LePage said he has worked on creating a steady, mentally tough persona for himself, since he was 12 years old. It was then thayt he shifted from the Wolcott BAW youth leagues to the more competitive world of AAU baseball to put pressure on himself to get better. It was also then that he decided he needed to sprint on and off the field to facilitate and intense approach in the mold of Pete Rose and Dustin Pedroia.
“My whole life, I have always been probably five inches shorter than everyone else on the field,” LePage said. “I most certainly haven’t had an edge on anyone physically except for maybe speed. Being the underdog, I needed something that would give me the edge.” He found that in his hustle and UConn found it by mistake. While he had a very good career at Loomis Chaffee prep school, he is the type of player you have to see to fully appreciate. He is a little guy with a big heart and plays the game the right way.