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May 28—Isaiah Decocq saw his opportunity, and knew the Methuen baseball team needed him.

The Rangers were in search of a catcher for this spring, after losing their starter to a football injury during Fall 2, and Decocq set his focus on the job.

“Going into this season, I was striving to be the starting catcher for Methuen,” he said. “Our original catcher hurt his ankle, so I got to work. I knew there was a good chance, and by the end of the preseason I could tell things were coming together.”

Decocq not only took the job, he has excelled behind the plate for Methuen.

The junior has been the starting catcher for all nine games the Rangers (5-4) have played this spring, drawing rave reviews from his coaches.

“Isaiah has been our savior,” said Methuen head coach Cam Roper, who was hired prior to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. “He has been nothing short of spectacular. He was recently still learning to block balls, and now he has been a rock behind the plate and working with our pitching staff.”

Decocq’s performance is a major reason the Rangers’ pitching staff has a stellar 3.60 ERA (36 runs in 10 games), including a 10-inning shutout of Chelmsford on Wednesday.

“I really wanted to step up and be the guy for this team,” he said. “I knew we needed someone at catcher, and I wanted to be that person that took the job and ran with it. I knew I could be that person if I worked hard enough and produced.

“I found out I had the starting job a few days before the first game. It was a huge relief, and a sense of accomplishment. I felt like I did something great, and that all the hard work in the offseason was worth it.”

Decocq began catching as a sixth grader, and the position quickly became an obsession.

“I was always the catcher in the backyard as a kid,” he said. “And I had a catcher’s mitt. In town league, I stepped up and asked if I could catch. It all came together from there.”

After playing for the freshman team in his first high school season, Decocq spent his sophomore year refining his skills during the coronavirus pandemic.

“I just kept grinding and working to become a better catcher,” he said. “I worked out a lot at Hitter’s Home in Lawrence. I was nervous coming into this season. It was nerve-wracking playing varsity for the first time. But I had to set my nerves aside and do whatever it took.”

At the plate, as the No. 9 hitter, Decocq had an RBI single in a season-opening win over Haverhill, and added a hit on Wednesday.

But it’s his work behind the plate that he takes the most pride in.

“I just have to be a wall back there and not let any balls get past me,” he said. “I have a strong arm and a quick release, so I feel like no one can steal a base on me. I love it. It’s not tiring to me. I love the challenge.

“I feel like I have built up a strong relationship with my pitchers. I feel like I need to be a leader on the field. When the team is at its lowest, I have to be the bright light that picks them up. When something goes wrong, I want to be the guy that hypes everyone back up.”