San Saba High School baseball coach, Jeff Pannell, was recently honored as West Texas Coach of the Year by the San Angelo Standard Times. This prestigious award came as a result of Coach Pannell leading his 2008 baseball team to the Regional finals. Since this is only his third year as head baseball coach, this is quite an accomplishment.
Like all successful coaches, however, Coach Pannell is quick to give credit for his success to his players. He says he not only had a talented team of players, but that all of them were the kind of young men that their parents and the community could really be proud of. Coach Pannell stated, "We've had our ups and downs over the last three years, but these kids have really worked their hearts out to make this year's team into champions, and I'm real proud of them."
Seven seniors graduated this year, but Coach Pannell feels he has a strong group of lower classmen coming along, and next year's baseball team will have a winning season. All of those leaving this year will be going to college. The schools they will be going to include: Texas State, Angelo State, North Texas, Texas A&M, and Howard Payne.
Prior to coming to San Saba, Coach Pannell was at Plainview. He also had a successful coaching career at Borger and Fritch. "I've always been in West Texas," he says. A graduate of Sul Ross, he played First Base while getting his degree in Education. "Ever since my playing days at Sul Ross, I've known I wanted to coach baseball," he stated. Coach Pannell also feels that living in San Saba has been extra frosting on the cake.
He is also the powerlifting coach, and his football position of Assistant Coach is a key one. Coach Pannell is Defensive Coordinator for the team and likes to point out that no matter how good the offense is, you can't win without keeping the other team from scoring.
A versatile teacher, Coach Pannell teaches Health and Physical Education in addition to his coaching duties. He enjoys all of his classes but admits that his first love is baseball.
His wife, Dana, is a counselor at San Saba High School. They have two daughters; one is a freshman and the other is in the fourth grade. Asked if he planned on making baseball stars out of either of them, Coach Pannell just grinned and said, "You never know!"
The baseball team will be practicing through the summer. Next year's season begins the first Monday in February. Area residents and parents are always welcome at Mill Pond to watch and cheer on the Armadillos!