If you ask players from the Permian baseball team what has been key to its success this season, most mention playing as a team and bringing good energy every time to take the field.
For the Panthers, one of the sources of that energy has come from catcher Peyton Gregory. Gregory is in his first season as the primary catcher for Permian and says that he’s just trying to enjoy every moment he’s out on the field.
“It really means a lot to be a part of this,” Gregory said. “It’s just crazy to think about where we’ve come from since our freshman year.”
The Panthers have put together one of the program’s best seasons in more than three decades and are looking to keep it going after sweeping their bi-district series against El Paso Socorro last weekend.
Gregory started both games behind the plate for Permian, helping guide a pitching staff that allowed just one run and four hits over two games.
Head coach Tate Criswell credited Gregory for stepping into a leadership role this season as well as setting an example as a team-first player.
Criswell said that Gregory started as a middle infielder before being moved to catcher.
“As far as defense goes, that’s the most important position besides the pitcher,” Criswell said. “You know that everybody’s looking at you and relies on you for energy and body language and Peyton does a really good job of that.”
Gregory said that things that help him on the field are just trying not to do too much and keeping the ball in front of him.
One aspect of his game he’s worked on the most is blocking the ball, along with becoming more of a leader.
Gregory added that he learned a lot of what applies now from former catcher Taylor Sullivan.
“I really saw Taylor as a leader and really like an older brother to me,” Gregory said. “He really pushed me a lot.”
Criswell said that on top of his skill set, Gregory also has improved his baseball IQ.
“He’s extremely aware of all situations going on with all the base runners and communicates it really well,” he said. “When your catcher can bring that to your team, you’re better off for it.”
Seeing that leadership and energy is something that his teammates feed off as well. Senior Teo Banks has gotten to experience that first hand on days that he’s pitching.
“He fires me up,” Banks said. “Anytime we strike someone out, you can see how happy he gets. He’s the best catcher in the district to me.”
Junior shortstop Jake Glasman added: “He’s probably one of the most energetic guys on the team and that means a lot and that really helps us.”
The Panthers will need more of that energy as they get set to face Trophy Club Byron Nelson in a best-of-three Class 6A area round series.
Game 1 is slated to start at 3 p.m. at Crutcher Scott Field at Abilene Christian University with Game 2 following 30 minutes after Game 1. Game 3, if necessary, is scheduled for 11 a.m. Saturday at the same venue.
The Bobcats advanced after defeating Hurst L.D. Bell.
One of the keys to victory was strong pitching as Byron Nelson allowed just three runs and shut out the Blue Raiders in a deciding Game 3.
Criswell said that the team will have to do a good job against the Bobcats pitching staff but is preaching the same message he has all season.
“We just have to stay with our routine and what’s been working and not get bored with the process,” he said. “You just have to continue to win a pitch and stay in the moment. Don’t look behind or down the road just be where your feet are.”
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