The Palmetto varsity baseball team is number one. So far. The Panthers, an already experienced and senior-laden team with hopes of going deep into the season and possibly even making it to states, are ranked the number one team in Miami-Dade County currently, also number five in the state. After defeating 9A district 16 rival Southridge 7-0 today, the team holds high hopes for the remainder of the season.
Junior Victor Valderrama is third year varsity baseball player and plays the positions of pitcher and shortstop. He is one of the few players that received the opportunity to play on the varsity team as a freshman. Most players participate in an all-freshman team in ninth grade, join the junior varsity team the next year with underclassmen and then finally join varsity by junior year. Valderamma believes in his teammates and the recent success of the panther baseball team.
In Valderrama’s freshman year, the Panthers made it to the regional semifinals and lost to Columbus with a score of 5-4, in an extra inning heartbreaker. Last year the Panthers made it to the district semifinals and lost to the archrival Killian Cougars with a score of 5-2. Of course, the goal this year is to advance even further and the tempo has been set, as seen by the Panthers current record of 10-0.
“We’re hot right now and are battling with a great team that has built up chemistry that really helps us a whole,” Valderrama said.
The baseball team is obviously not able to succeed without the dedication of a coaching staff that put this “dream team” together. Varsity coach Danny Smith, who has been on the Palmetto coaching staff for seventeen years, exemplifies dedication to the program and trust in his returning players along with those who transferred and are new.
“Our coaching is great,” Valderrama said. “They really communicate with us and they want us to play the game right. They always tell us to play harder and give it all we got.”
Even though the Panther baseball is perfect so far, they do not intend to let up. The goal is to attend states and bring a state championship home to Palmetto for the first time in program history.