As Permian’s fourth baseball coach in four years, Tate Criswell’s first order of business is to bring a sense of stability to the program.
A busy offseason saw Criswell not only try to piece together a lineup, but to build a team.
“I definitely think you need to evaluate all players as far as what they bring talent-wise to the game of baseball, but also to the team,” Criswell said. “You definitely want a selfless player.
“As a coach, you come the first year and try to establish some trust between the guys on the team. For me, being the fourth guy here in four years, my top priority was to build trust between them and me.”
The Panthers, who went 8-21 overall last season with a 3-12 mark in District 2-6A, made progress in that direction during the offseason, Criswell said.
“A lot of trust was developed,” he said. “I believe the guys I’ve had since August, we have a great relationship. They’re going to be able to play. They’re going to play hard and play hard for each other.
“We spent a lot of time in the weight room. We’ve really gained some good weight and gotten a lot stronger. I think that helps not only physically in the game of baseball, but with the mentality of just competing and hustling and putting in hard work.”
Pitcher-infielder Seth Higdon said the Panthers already show the affects of Criswell’s efforts.
“This is actually the most confident I’ve ever been going into a baseball season,” said Higdon, who signed with Cisco College earlier this month. “The past couple of years, I haven’t been this confident in the team and in the coach. (Criswell has) really put confidence in all of us.”
Pitcher Peyton Hutson said the Panthers’ mental development has been as significant as physical progress.
“Coach Criswell has really set a foundation for us with our mental game, and I think that’s the biggest thing,” Hutson said. “Baseball is 90 percent a mental game and 10 percent physical. If you really work on that mental game … it doesn’t matter how good your swing is if you don’t have a good mental game.”
Hutson and Higdon give Permian a solid starting point. Each worked 39.2 innings last season to share the team lead. Higdon recorded 31 strikeouts with a 5.12 ERA, while Hutson fanned 26 with a 5.29 ERA.
“Seth Higdon and Peyton Hutson are going to be probably our top two starters as far as Tuesday-Friday guys,” Criswell said. “Christian LaChance has really kind of taken ownership of the closer role. In team camp, he was throwing it upper 80s with a little movement. That’s going to help us out a lot.
“Right now on varsity, we’ve got 11 pitchers that can all throw strikes and work low in the zone.”
As for the rest of the lineup, versatility will be a key for Permian.
“We want four guys on the infield that could play shortstop and three guys in the outfield that could play center field so we can move around and be able to go get baseballs,” Criswell said. “We really can play all over the place, and I like that. It’s really going to help us in all spots.”
Among the returning players, Tanner Adams batted .392 with nine RBIs last year, while Manny Guerrero and Daniel Enriquez both hit .342 and Isaiah Flores posted a .310 average.
There has been plenty of competition for lineup spots with three or more players working at most positions.
“We’re going to be young on the infield, but it’s not out of necessity,” Criswell said. “It’s because there’s some good, young kids.
“We’ve got nine varsity outfielders and they’re all deserving of a starting position. That makes my job tough, but it’s a good problem to have.”
Date Opponent Time Site
Feb. 22 a-NRH Birdville 4:30 p.m. Weatherford
Feb. 22 a-Weatherford 7:15 p.m. Weatherford
Feb. 23 a-NRH Richland 11 a.m. North Richland Hills
Feb. 23 a-Abilene High 1:45 p.m. North Richland Hills
Feb. 24 a-Granbury 10 a.m. Granbury
Feb. 24 a-Ranger College JV 12:45 p.m. Granbury
March 1 b-El Paso Franklin Noon McCanlies Field
March 2 b-Andrews 1 p.m. McCanlies Field
March 2 b-Canyon Randall 4 p.m. McCanlies Field
March 3 b-Plainview 10 a.m. McCanlies Field
March 3 b-Lubbock High 2 p.m. McCanlies Field
March 8 c-Lubbock Coronado 1 p.m. Lubbock Coronado
March 8 c-Colleyville Heritage 4 p.m. Lubbock Coronado
March 9 c-El Paso Coronado 1 p.m. Lubbock Cooper
March 9 c-Lubbock Cooper 4 p.m. Lubbock Cooper
March 10 c-El Paso Americas 10 a.m. Lubbock Estacado
March 10 c-Lubbock Estacado 1 p.m. Lubbock Estacado
March 13 *Wolfforth Frenship 1 p.m. McCanlies Field
March 15 *Midland High Noon McCanlies Field
March 17 *Midland Lee 1 p.m. McCanlies Field
March 20 *Odessa High 4:30 p.m. McCanlies Field
March 23 *Amarillo Tascosa 4:30 p.m. Amarillo
March 27 *Midland High 4:30 p.m. Zachery Field
March 29 *Midland High 4:30 p.m. McCanlies Field
March 30 Lubbock Christian 5 p.m. Lubbock Christian
April 3 *Midland Lee 4:30 p.m. Ernie Johnson Field
April 6 *Midland Lee 4:30 p.m. McCanlies Field
April 7 San Angelo Central 1 p.m. San Angelo
April 13 *Wolfforth Frenship 4:30 p.m. McCanlies Field
April 14 *Wolfforth Frenship 1 p.m. Wolfforth
April 17 *Odessa High 4:30 p.m. Pressly Field
April 20 *Odessa High 4:30 p.m. McCanlies Field
April 24 *Amarillo Tascosa 4:30 p.m. McCanlies Field
April 27 *Amarill
o Tascosa 4:30 p.m. Amarillo
*-District 2-6A game; a-Jerry Durant Classic; b-Tournament of Champions; c-First Bank Classic, Lubbock
Number Name Position Class
1 Tanner Adams INF Jr.
2 Nick Chavez OF Sr.
3 Jayden Salcido INF/RHP Jr.
4 Daniel Yandrich C So.
5 Christian Tschauner OF Jr.
6 Tyler Ramage RHP/OF So.
7 Isaiah Flores INF/RHP So.
8 Aleck Villa INF Fr.
9 Daniel Enriquez OF Jr.
11 Sammy Leyba INF/RHP Jr.
12 Noey Brito INF/RHP So.
13 Nate Kizziar C/INF Sr.
14 A.J. Vega INF Jr.
15 Peyton Hutson RHP Sr.
16 Seth Higdon RHP/INF Sr.
18 Christian LaChance RHP/OF Sr.
20 Taylor Sullivan C/INF So.
21 Keatyn Armstrong OF Jr.
22 Caden Bedrick RHP/INF So.
23 Zane Murphy OF Sr.
24 Easton Hernandez INF/RHP So.
34 Manny Guerrero LHP/INF/OF Jr.
42 Jared Carrasco RHP/INF/OF So.