BASEBALL: First Odessa Christian Academy shifts focus to new baseball program

First Odessa Christian Academy stuck its collective foot in the deep end of the pool when it decided to start a basketball program last year.

The Lions shocked everyone, including themselves perhaps, when they finished first in a league comprised of schools in the Odessa-Midland area.

“I figured we’d be decent,” basketball coach Richard Jordan said. “But this was the first year we played all the middle schools.”

Now, as the school begins to accept ninth graders in the fall, the athletic program is looking to expand as well.

The Lions are set to launch a baseball program, with the first games to be played in the spring of 2023.

For Jordan and the rest of the coaching staff, it now becomes a numbers game.

“The question is how many ninth graders will we get,” Jordan said. “Right now, we have 15 to 18 kids committed and we have some others that haven’t decided on whether they are going to enroll in the school in the fall.

“We’ll have four workouts in June, starting in the 14th in the evening in the gym, doing inside work. We’ll move to D-BAT (Permian Basin) in July for more work before going out on the field in August when school starts.”

Finding a spot for the Lions to play is something the Jordan has been working on for several weeks as the plan to field a team gained steam.

There are several candidates in Odessa with Odessa High, Permian, Odessa College, UTPB and perhaps Sherwood Park.

Jordan said that everyone has been very accommodating when talking about their facilities and he’s expecting no issues when it’s time to chalk the lines in the fall for practice.

“We are getting more of a reaction than I thought,” he said. “The guys at UTPB have been exceptional; I don’t think there is going to be a problem.”

Jordan has also started to reach out to programs in Abilene, San Angelo, Lubbock and the surrounding areas to begin putting a schedule together for the spring.

He expects the Lions to compete in TAPPS (Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools) Class 1A, its lowest classification.

That’s if the enrollment numbers remain steady.

“The school grew by 60 kids last year,” Jordan said. “We have about 200 students and a lot of them are in the lower levels, making their way through the grades.

“If we have more students enroll, we might be a 2A, but right now we are looking at 1A in the fall.”

No matter the classification, Jordan knows that putting a competitive baseball team on the field will take some time.

He is drawing inspiration, however, from Weatherford Christian School, another set of Lions that won the TAPPS Division V state championship in their first year of competition.

Jordan noted that Weatherford Christian School started nine freshmen on the state championship team.

With First Odessa Christian Academy yet to throw its first pitch, Jordan is more concerned with the next step, not the end result.

“You have to get the foundation set at one point,” he said. “I think that everyone (at the school) is tickled pink; nobody saw this coming this fast.

“It’s exciting and I’m excited to get it started.”

>> Follow Lee Scheide on Twitter at @OALeeScheide