By Jerome Stewart | KBEC Sports
Maypearl head baseball coach Mike Martin and his Panthers were off to a roaring start last year.
It was the first season as the Panthers’ skipper for Martin and he had the team rolling to start the 2020 season. Maypearl was one of the top 3A teams in the area with an 11-1-1 record — and then COVID-19 stopped play.
Martin and the Panthers received the season-ending news while playing in the Rice tournament.
“There was an emptiness in [my] stomach,” Matin said. He also noted that he had a prophetic nature to his talk to the team on the bus as they traveled to Rice.
“If this is your last game, how are you going to play it,” the first-year head coach asked.
Martin explained the news hit hard the Panther seniors.
“[They] didn’t realize that it was going to be their last game,” Martin said, noting that he knew the program needed to do something for them.
With the help of the community, Martin organized a senior send-off. Underclassmen sent him short messages about the seniors. Those messages were added to individual photos and then posted across social media.
But that was all last season. This year has already started with quite a boost of confidence.
The Panthers took the field for the first day of practice this past Friday. They did so as the 20th-ranked team in 3A, according to TXhighschoolbaseball.com, and with a motivated group of players. That group includes six returning starters.
Martin noted that “Respect 90” is the team mantra for the 2021 season. He explained the team will respect the game — all aspects — and carry itself with great character on-and-off the field.
In addition to the mantra, the first tenet of Martin’s coaching philosophy is, “you got to love the kids.”
“I have great backing from the superintendent (Ritchie Bowling) and the AD (coach Sam Riepe),” he added. “[The community of Maypearl has a great] small-town feel.”
Despite a challenging pre-district schedule, Martin said his Panthers are ready to roar again.
FULL 3A BASEBALL RANKINGS
All rankings, information are courtesy txhighschoolbaseball.com.
- Malakoff- 7 Returning starters from 10-2-1 team including Bryson Adair, Sr, SS/P (.547 BA, Sam Houston commit) and Brandon Nations, Sr, OF/P (.400 BA, UIW commit).
- Brock- 9 Returning Starters from 8-1-1 team including Jaxson Gleaton, Sr, IF (.280, 10 RS, 10 SB) and Carson Lightfoot, Sr, P (12.2 IP, 21 K).
- Jim Ned- 8 Returning starters from 6-2 team including Tate Yardley, Jr, SS/P and Landon Tant, Sr, 1B/3B/P.
- Troy- 8 Returning Starters from 11-3 team including Hagen Rose, Sr, SS (.289 BA, 3-0, 17 K) and Preston Lewis, Sr, 3B/P(.444 BA, 2-1, 12 K).
- Pottsboro- 7 Returning Starters from 9-1 team including Barrett Kent, So, P/1B (4 HR, 16 RBI, 30 K, Arkansas commit) and Jackson Lipscomb, Sr, C/P (.441 BA, 5 2B, 11 RBI).
- Bishop- 6 Returning starters from 7-6 team including Tye Odom, Jr, CF/P (.386 BA, 4 2B, 17 RS) and Ruben Rendon, Jr, 3B/P (2-0, 0.58 ERA).
- Harmony- 6 Returning starters from 10-2 team including Evan Patterson, Sr, P/IF (.382 BA, 2-1, 0.81 ERA) and Cooper Wadding, Jr, P/IF (.458 BA, 2-0, 0.00 ERA).
- Wall- 8 Returning starters from 9-3-1 team including Kannon Brooks, Sr, 1B/P (.410 BA, 10 RBI, 0.656 ERA, 1-0) and Bryson Ballard, Sr, C/P (.286 BA, 2 2B, 7 RBI, 7 RS).
- Paradise- 8 Returning starters from 6-5-2 including Parker Cook, Sr, P/1B (.441 BA, 1 HR, 1.024 ERA) and Cade Goodman, Sr, 3B/C (.308 BA, 2 HR)
- Boyd- 9 Returning Starters from 11-2 team including Rustyn Ellis, Sr, C (.484 BA, 3 HR, 15 RBI) and Whitt Hill, Sr, SS/2B/P (.514 BA, 5 2B, 14 RS).
- Banquete- 7 Returning starters from 9-4-1 team including Josh Moreno, Sr, RHP/UTIL (.306 BA, 9 SB) and Mason Vasquez, Jr, RHP/SS (.316 BA, 11 RBI, 2-0)
- New Waverly- 7 Returning starters from 10-2-1 team including Ty Elder, Sr, OF/P (.357 BA, 33 K, 0.82 ERA) and Seth Adams, Sr, IF/P (.375 BA, 10 RBI, 0.00 ERA).
- Holliday- 6 Returning starters from 9-4 team including Crosby Jurecek, Sr, OF (.421 BA, .476 OBP) and Dalton Anderson, Jr, P/IF (.385 BA, .568 OBP).
- Grandview- 6 Returning Starters from 7-3-1 team including Blaine Vaughan, Sr, SS/P and Jimmy Mathis, Sr, C.
- Blanco- 5 Returning starters from 8-4 team including Baylor Smith, Sr, 3B/P (.438 BA, 2 HR) and Ty Adkinson, Sr, OF (.353 BA).
- Anderson-Shiro- 5 Returning starters from 10-1 team including Cole Werner, Sr, C/IF/P (.316 BA, 1-0) and Brice Beene, Sr, P/IF (.301 BA, 2-0).
- New Diana-2 Returning starters from 11-3 team including Zach Malone, Sr, 3B/RHP (2-0, 0.824 ERA) and Elliot Foreman, So, C/IF/RHP (1 HR, 1 2B, 22 QAB).
- White Oak- 7 Returning starters from 9-2-1 team including Dylan Carrell, Sr, SS/P (.317 BA, 18 RBI, 2-0) and Landon Anderson, Jr, P/1B/C (.500 BA, 1-0, 1 SV).
- Maypearl- 6 Returning starters from 10-1-1 team including Aaron Jett, Jr, SS and Michael Todd, Sr, 1B/P.
- Falfurrias- 7 Returning starters from 12-1 team including Jose Maldonado, So, C/P (2-1, .381 BA) and Patrick Nunez, Jr, 2B/P (1-0, .531 BA).
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Jerome Stewart is a contributing photojournalist and journalist for KBEC Sports. The longtime superintendent has faithfully dedicated his free time to high school athletics for over two decades.