Eric Palleschi has learned to adapt to his players in his 10 years as baseball coach at Monmouth Academy.

A good example took place this season when the Mustangs returned an experienced group of seniors prepared to make a run at a state championship. Palleschi listened to what they had to say in preseason, which included more baseball and fewer punitive wind sprints.

“We laid off them,” Palleschi said. “Last year we pushed them really hard.”

The strategy paid off as the Mustangs finished the regular season at 15-1, the best record in the Mountain Valley Conference. They reached the semifinals of the Class C tournament before falling to a late rally by unbeaten Sacopee Valley.

For his efforts, Palleschi has been selected Kennebec Journal Baseball Coach of the Year. Also considered were Oak Hill’s Matt Bray and Cony’s Don Plourde.

Palleschi, who teaches Special Ed at Monmouth Middle School, graduated from Monmouth, where he played baseball, in 1995. He went on to play three years at St. Joseph’s College and still plays men’s league baseball today. Much of what he does in practice these days, he drew from coach Will Sanborn at St. Joe’s, although more attention is paid to learning the fundamentals than in college.

“His practices are right down to a T,” senior Kyle Fletcher said. “This year he realized we had the potential to be very good. Last year we needed more corralling, I think we all benefited from it.”

Assistant coach Brett Witherell is a teacher at the high school, providing a good liaison with the players, while Palleschi gets to see the upcoming players at the middle school.

“Getting access to those kids early is huge,” he said.

Palleschi is actively involved with younger players as a player agent for the Cal Ripken league and works with coaches. He also conducts spring clinics in which he’s worked with former Oak Hill coach Bill Fairchild. He’s followed this year’s seniors since they were in sixth grade and knew they were something special.

“We invested a lot in them,” he said.

Despite graduating nine seniors, Palleschi said the program is in great shape. He’s put in his time and it’s paid off nearly every season as the Mustangs have become one of the teams to beat in the MVC.

“He’s helped me a lot,” Fletcher said. “He’s patient with us and he knows the game very well. Individually he’s so supportive.”

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