Through 16 games of their baseball season, the Yellow Jackets are looking like a true postseason threat.
The team is currently 11-3-2 on the season with both ties coming in tournaments that use time restrictions to limit game play time.
Looking back a year ago, Stephenville was sitting with a 7-8-1 record through their first 16 games, which included them starting the year 1-7.
What a difference a year makes.
"The first part of the season has been way above and beyond what we were doing at this point last year. We are an entirely different baseball club," said Stephenville head baseball coach Justin Swenson. "We're a confident team. We'll pitch well and play great defense and that's how we're having success. We've done that for a large portion of our games."
They'll need to keep doing it as well if they want to find themselves back in the postseason.
Many who follow the team may have been relieved to see their district partnership with Abilene Wylie dissolve for at least the next seasons, but now they're in arguably the deepest 4A district in the state.
Paired alongside Godley, Midlothian Heritage, Alvarado, Venus, Glen Rose and Waxahachie Life, Stephenville is one of two teams ranked currently (As of Saturday, March 18). Godley is ranked No. 6, while Stephenville is No. 22 in the Texas High School Baseball poll. In addition, every school's record is currently above .500, with Godley boasting the best win percentage with a 8-1-1 record, including two district wins where the Wildcats are yet to allow a run.
"It’s a very, very deep district we’re in now. Every coach I’ve spoken to has said they’re glad they aren’t in," said Swenson. "There’s a couple of ranked teams and multiple players who will play at the next level on every team. It’s very deep and we can’t take a night off. We’re probably all going to beat up on each other and so we have to go into every game approaching it as a must win."
As of March 18, Stephenville is currently 1-1 in district play following a 9-1 loss to Midlothian Heritage. In that game Stephenville committed several errors which ultimately gifted the Jaguars a majority of their production. As detrimental as that sounds, Swenson says that at least up to this point in the year it was an anomaly.
"We’re built to win a lot of 3-2, 3-1 type of ballgames," he said. "We can score runs and have, but in this district where we'll have to go against a lot of overpowering pitchers, everyone has a big hoss they can rely on. If we get a 1-0 lead we have the mindset that we can hold it due to our pitching and solid defense."
Also in comparison, Stephenville isn't boasting any blue chip Division I players, like some of their opponents. While one man on the mound does have a shot to single-handedly win a game, the Yellow Jackets see their vast depth across all areas of the game an advantage.
"Our biggest strength is our depth. I have five or six guys who can come off of the bench and do the same job as the guy that’s in front of them," said Swenson. "I’ve never been around a program this deep. It’s going to pay off for us."
The Yellow Jackets are back in action on Tuesday when they travel to take on Alvarado.