Canada’s sport is ice hockey. Everywhere you go up north you will see someone in the streets wearing a hockey sweater. However, the Repentigny, Quebec native and Big Train infielder Emilien Pitre was not one of those people.
Rather than playing with a stick and puck, he tried a bat and glove, and once he did, he fell in love with baseball immediately.
“I personally think [baseball] is the hardest sport and every other sport was kind of easy to me,” Pitre said. “That’s why I want to play it for the rest of my life.”
So far, Pitre has been Big Train’s most consistent hitter. He leads the Cal Ripken Collegiate Baseball League with a .500 batting average and has 15 hits through 11 games. He also has a knack for getting on base, sporting an on-base percentage of .600. It's not surprising considering his mindset.
“Every time I step on the field, I want to win it,” Pitre said. “That's just how I am personally. I want to make it. I want to make my family proud.”
His confidence is what separates him from the rest of the players on the field. From the day he stepped onto a baseball diamond, Pitre knew he could make baseball his life and be an effective player anywhere he played.
Even though he only made four appearances at the plate this past spring at the University of Kentucky, Pitre used his freshmen season as a learning experience.
“I had really good players in front of me playing so I picked their brains all year,” he said. “Chase Estep and Daniel Harris IV shout out because they are really good teammates and really great players that I had the pleasure to watch all year.”
His current teammates and coaches enjoy seeing his competitive personality lead to on-field success and help form chemistry within the locker room.
“He's not only competitive with the [opposing] pitcher, but he's competitive with us too,” teammate Baylor Cobb said. “When you hear his walk up song kick in, he walks up there, he's stone cold. There's not a doubt in his mind that he’s about to get on base."
“We got to just help him redefine himself,” Big Train manager Sal Colangelo said. “He’s a great player, instinctively very smart, knows how to play the game, knows what to do.”
That confidence makes him an effective two-way player. On Jun. 18, against the Gaithersburg Giants, he showcased his skills at the plate, going three for five, and sparkled defensively, contributing several putouts and assists.
Colangelo says he was already a “complete player” when he first put on a Big Train uniform.
“He's redefining himself and getting ready to be ahead of the game when he gets back [to Kentucky] in the fall,” Colangelo said.
Hockey analysts like to say that if someone is good at defense and offense, they are a “200-foot player”. Pitre has embraced that title so far, even if it’s on the diamond instead of a 200-foot sheet of ice. If Pitre keeps up his stellar two-way play as expected, he'll likely be a mainstay in the Wildcats’ infield in 2023.
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