DICKINSON, N.D. - When the Expedition League first formed, Hayden Pewitt thought he would land as an assistant coach with one of the organizations. But when he saw the head coaching position for the Badlands Big Sticks, he pursued it.
"One of my best friends actually played for Jason. He and Jason were really tight. He was a catcher too, so I got in touch with him and was like, 'Hey man what do you think about Watson?' He had good things to say, so I reached out and here we are. I mean pretty seamless for us," said Pewitt.
As the two got further into the interview process, Big Sticks General Manager Jason Watson, a former head baseball coach at Dickinson State, saw a bit of himself in Pewitt.
"Honestly I think he's just like me. He's actually a little calmer than I am but when I was his age coaching and stuff, as far as his game planning and everything like that, he's very knowledgeable of the game. He gets along great with the guys, as far as his leadership role goes. So, yeah, I'm glad he chose to come back," said Watson.
In his first year as head coach, Pewitt led the Big Sticks to the Expedition League Championship. If you ask the guys from last year’s clubhouse who are back for season two, his calming presence paved the way for his players' success.
"He's the perfect example of how a summer coach should be. He's very relaxed but at the same time wants the team to do well. So when you get a good mix of that, I think that creates the recipe for success," said Gabe Knowles, Big Sticks outfielder.
"I think it's just the relaxed play that he provides as a coach. There's no pressure in the bottom of the ninth. We won a lot of games last year off walk offs and everything. Its just how he presents himself and the confidence he gives you as a player," said Brayden Olson, Big Sticks catcher.
Pewitt is undecided on what college program he will coach next spring. However, he does believe the summer ball grind will make him a prime candidate for athletic directors trying to fill a coaching vacancy.
"I don't necessarily think the success of summer ball, I think it's more the day to day operations of you manage, you recruit a full team, and those big men making the calls hiring everybody, they know summer ball, they know what it's about and they know how much you just have to let it ride. And every day you have to figure out something to get your team out there and win a ball game," said Pewitt.