It started with a win in the season opener, which then turned into a good week and which then turned into a good month.

Ultimately, it was a good season for Don Plourde’s Cony baseball team, one that saw the Rams turn back into a Class A contender.

“It was just about the kids buying in and working hard,” Plourde said. “We had a pretty young team last year, and they matured physically and mentally. We can do everything we want, but in the end, it’s all about the players, it’s all about how hard they work.”

After back-to-back 4-12 seasons, the Rams finished 11-6 after taking the fourth seed in Class A North. For his work in guiding Cony’s bounce-back season, Plourde is the Kennebec Journal Baseball coach of the Year.

Gardiner’s Charlie Lawrence, who steered a team from an 0-5 start to the playoffs, Maranacook’s Eric Brown, who led the Black Bears to the second seed in Class C South, and Richmond’s Ryan Gardner, who got the Bobcats back to the Class D South final, were also considered.

Plourde benefited from the proper buy-in from his players, but he also changed up his approach. The roster wasn’t going to look much different, so he was going to have to find a way to win more games with the group that had won only those four games the spring before.

“When we started our offseason after last season, we realized that we had to do some different things, because we were largely going to have the same personnel,” he said. “We knew we’d have to do some things to try to manufacture, if you will, more runs. We just really put together an aggressive baserunning philosophy and worked on a lot of things.”

The Rams drew whatever they could out of the offense. They emphasized plate discipline, so that they got on base often even if their averages weren’t high. They were hit by pitches 23 times. They stole third base more times than they stole any base last season.

“It was just about the kids buying in and working hard,” Plourde said. “They put in the time. They put in a lot of extra time on Sundays, I’d drive by the field and see five or six guys doing that.”

Plourde knew the best way to help his players to make the jump in their development was by letting them play with less direction and ordering during games. He called it “backyard baseball,” letting the players think and play for themselves and make their own decisions on the field, and play more loosely as a result.

“Part of it was kind of going against conventional wisdom,” he said. “We really wanted the kids to think more on their own, and less coaching during games. That’s what practices are for.”

It worked, and the Rams had the success they were having just a few seasons ago as a Class A playoff regular.

Now the question is whether Cony will stay at that level. Plourde likes the team’s chances.

“I said it 10 years ago when I took the position, it’s one of the premier positions in high school in the state of Maine,” he said. “You equate Cony baseball with being a team that’s always a contender. … I think guys are believing it and we have the pieces to the puzzle. It’s just a matter of putting that puzzle together.”

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