High School Sports

Ridgeview Panthers Baseball: Better Days Ahead

todayMarch 17, 2022

Background

By James Critch

 

The Ridgeview Panthers Baseball team closed out the 2021 season with a disappointing record (6-18) and decided it was time to make a change at head coach. New skipper Saul Jimenez was brought over from Oakleaf after 6 years on their staff and a new focus is taking shape throughout the program.

Coach Saul is in his first year as a Varsity Head Coach and is looking to implement the basics of both baseball and life within his program. Jimenez believes “If the kids play the game the right way and do their academics, then it’s a win for all involved. We take it pitch by pitch, game by game and strive to do things the right way. That will help the student athletes realize sports is a lot like life. Good and bad will happen, but how do they respond and do they keep doing the right things to obtain their goals.”

The Panthers have assembled a strong coaching staff that Jimenez feels confident they are all striving for the same things; wins on the field and success in the classrooms. Pitching coach Jason Mauloni, catchers coach Michael Reali, hitting coach Leeroy Dunn and pitching coordinator Chris Mauloni who has ties to the Detroit Tigers organization are all working to get the best out of their team on and off the field.

The staff has implemented a rule that is stronger than the traditional school ball expectation of a 2.0 GPA to play sports. Jimenez feels very strong about their rule of, “You can make the team and stay on the team with a 2.0 but you will not see playing time unless you are carrying a 2.5 GPA. Baseball is a privilege to play at this level and they have tasks at hand from the classroom that will blend into what is their future with life and jobs. If they handle it now and do it the right way, in their future lives, it’ll make them successful.”

Though education is an extremely important part of their responsibilities as coaches, Saul realizes he and his staff are going to be held accountable for wins and losses on the field. According to Jimenez, the toughest opponents that are on the schedule this season will be Clay, Fleming Island, First Coast (W 4-3), Lake City Columbia and St Johns Country Day. The staff has set an expectation to win all games but during this first season with a new head coach, Saul believes that “Chemistry will be top priority for the coaches and players. We will all need to get used to each other so we can all be on the same page with expectations and ways that we want to play the game as a team.”

Stepping into a head coaching position can be a tall task when moving to a different school but Jimenez feels confident that he has upper classman to help him build the future that he envisions quicker with their experience on the high school diamond and previous playing time. With players such as Austin Arrocha(SR), Jacob Rowe(SR), Xavier Harris(JR), Billy Girgis(JR) who Saul claims “has the best hands in baseball in Northeast Florida” and Clayton Goldbrand who is only a freshman but is pushing his upperclassman at the catcher position. Saul believes “Goldbrand will probably see Varsity playing time if he keeps putting in the work.”

Jimenez feels strongly that he has a “scrappy defensive team and a confident group of players all the way around. And you need confidence to be successful in any sport but in baseball if you are not confident, you cannot hide that on the field.”

Whether it’s on the diamond or in the classroom, Coach Jimenez and staff are working hard to build not only good ball players but also young men that strive to be the best they can be during their time at

Ridgeview. Dedication to players and each other within the Panthers clubhouse is sure to bring better days for all who play for Saul and commit themselves to doing the right thing for the right reason and giving it all they have to get there.

Written by: Dylan Ryan


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