BROCK — After Stephenville was knocked out of the Class 4A baseball playoffs, the Yellow Jackets seemed to know at least two things for sure.
One was that the team that eliminated them — Godley — was one of the best in the state. The other realization for head coach Justin Swenson and his Yellow Jackets was that next year holds promise, with 17 underclassmen on the roster expected back — including nine sophomores. Just seven graduating seniors are departing.
Godley swept the Yellow Jackets in their best-of-three series Friday at the Brock High School field with an 8-1 win. In the first game of the series, on Thursday, the Jackets were edged, 1-0.
Senior first baseman Caleb Gibbons, who was Stephenville’s starting pitcher in the Game 1 loss, said next year’s team will be “young, small and dangerous.”
“It will be interesting,” said Gibbons, a three-year varsity player who allowed six hits in 5-1/3 innings Thursday.
Although Godley was the seventh-ranked Class 4A team in the state entering that series, Gibbons noted after it was over that he didn’t mind losing to such a strong opponent.
“We can hang with them. They are a great team, and I hope they move it on to Austin,” Gibbons said.
Senior Luke Bullard, who had one of Stephenville’s five hits in the series opener, said the Jackets have “so much talent, it’s only going to get better with the underclassmen we’ve got.”
Swenson said the younger players on his roster who got lots of playing time this year began to understand the game better and next season should be ready to pick up where they left off.
“That’s what’s going to make them very dangerous for years to come,” said Swenson, who led the team to a 23-9-2 season record.
Although many of the players were wearing big smiles on their faces after the initial disappointment of losing, Swenson noted, “We are not accepting losing by any means. We tip our hat to (Godley) and feel good about ourselves. Only one team is going to be happy. We went down swinging, and gave it all we’ve got.”
He also mentioned the strength of this year’s Godley team, which left Brock with a 27-3-1 record.
“You can book them into the regional finals against Abilene Wylie,” Swenson said. “They are the best team we played all year, and might be one of the best we’ve ever played.”
The Jackets were the fourth-place team out of District 8-4A, and Godley was the district champion.
Stephenville swept Kennedale, two games to none, in the bi-district round of the playoffs and also won two straight over Sweetwater in the area round. Those outings, plus the two games against Godley, gave the young Yellow Jackets six extra games of varsity experience.
“All that’s going to help us in the future,” Swenson said. “Next year is our time to make a run, and I’m very confident that will happen.”
In Friday’s season-ending loss, the Jackets were held hitless by sophomore pitcher Chase Lummas of Godley until Clay Krause’s two-out double in the bottom of the sixth inning.
Sophomore catcher Cody Storrs then bunted to bring in Krause after he stole third base.
Easton Jones was Stephenville’s starting pitcher in that game, and was relieved by Bullard in the seventh inning.
Godley is facing Midland Greenwood (23-8-1) this weekend in the regional semifinals.