Panther Baseball begins season this Monday

by John Earp

The Jal Panthers Varsity Baseball Team recently began practicing for the spring season. Head Coach Johnny Estrada said he has fewer seniors this year than last, but he has a good number of baseballers who have experience. There are also about five baseball players who are still playing basketball until the state tournament is over. Estrada says overall the team has good balance of experience. He says he is looking for his juniors to really step up this season.

Regarding the baseball program, Coach Estrada says, “We’re going to change the culture here.” He says, “I have about six eighth graders coming out this year. What killed the process over these eight years that we have had the baseball program going was COVID. When COVID hit in March 2020, they canceled the whole spring season, so they cancelled one whole year, so I had to start all over again. We played one game in Kermit, and after that, they (NMAA) canceled the  spring sports.”

 “Last year, I had a bunch of seniors. I had seven seniors playing, starting.” Now, Estrada says he is looking for the guys who played last year to step up in leadership on the team. I have a couple guys that never played baseball, and I’m trying to help them out and teach them. We’re going to make it a fun season, but like I said, we’re going to change the culture here. We’re going to do things right. We’re going to have a routine. We’re going to have everything set in place. We’re going to make sure we follow the rules of baseball and play good.”

Assisting Coach Estrada this season are Lee Flores and Billy Lamanack, who are in charge of pitchers and catchers, outfielders, and infielders. Estrada is coaching hitting. The ideal is for all the coaches to work together as a team within the team.

The Panthers’ first game will be next Monday, March 11th, at home against Kermit, starting at 4:30 p.m.