SJ co-district champs

Even though the last game did not go how they wanted it, the Saint Jo baseball team ended up as the co-district champions for the first time since the program was brought back.
Three years ago the Panthers brought back baseball after some time. With no district, they had an outlaw schedule where they played anybody who would give them a game.
Saint Jo did not field a team the next year, but brought it back last year. They played in a blended district of 1A and 2A schools. Between those two seasons, the program won only one game.
This season has bred positive results. The Panthers doubled their win total early in the season with some of their tournament wins.
Facing a district with more teams being 2A than 1A, Saint Jo held their own in those games and was able to win some as well as they finished 5-7. They also spent several weeks at the tenth position in the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association state poll.
The turnaround seemed to come out of nowhere, but first year athletic director and Coach Derek Schlieve thinks it had to do with getting to know his players.
“I think a lot of people were surprised,” Schlieve said. “We were able to come in and get to know the guys during football and most of our baseball players are football players so that wasn’t a challenge for us that way and probably the chemistry is the biggest difference.”
With the positive results this season, the program hopes to join a district with similar sized schools so the competition can be more even. Not every 1A school can field a baseball team, but the number is growing and the possibility is there for them joining an all 1A district.
“There are enough 1A schools,” Schlieve said. “Right now I think everyone is looking at what the logistics of it would look like. The travel would be more, but I think it would be advantageous since whenever you are in a division, you are in a division for a reason.”
They will be playing similar sized schools going forward as they head into the playoffs. Saint Jo plays Northside at 6 p.m. on May 4 at Windthorst in a one game playoff.

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