By: Jihad Shatara
It is that time of year again Panthers. The baseball season is back, and it is another exciting season coming up for your Palm Beach State Panthers.
The Panthers are most known for their nickname “Boys of the Summer” due to their outstanding success in the postseason. The Panthers are coming off a season in which they played for the FCSAA Florida State Title where unfortunately, they lost in the State Final to Northwest Florida State out of Niceville, Florida. The Panthers won the Southern Conference last season on April 23, 2015, where they obtained the number one overall seed for the state tournament. They are looking to repeat as champs once again this season. They were able to boast a staggering 41-17 record, including a 17-11 conference record. They would finish the 2015 campaign ranked #6 in the country.
Since taking over the team in 2010 as Head Coach of the Panthers Baseball team, Coach Kyle Forbes has had nothing but success posting a .645 win percentage. He has lead the Palm Beach State Panthers to numerous postseason berths and even a national runner up in 2013 in a record breaking season. In 2013, Coach Forbes helped lead the team to the first state title since 1984 and a chance to represent the state of Florida for the first time ever in the NJCAA JUCO World Series. Not only would they make the tournament, but they would finish as the national runner ups. Along with the national runner up, they would make the state tournament for a third straight season in 2014.
The Panthers have had much success under Coach Forbes, as he is always able to put together a nice balance of youth and experience. This year’s team will feature almost an entirely different team compared to last season. When asking Coach Forbes how the team will develop with 20 freshmen now filling the roles of graduating sophomores, he had a simple reply. “We have a team that will improve with experience. We have 20 freshmen on the roster that are talented and will get better as the season progresses.” He has had nothing but high praise for his young players.
Coach Forbes was also able to bring in some local talent. On the roster for the 2016 season, there are eight students that are from the Palm Beach County area.
The season kicked off on January 30, 2016. Palm Beach State started their title defense against Seminole State out of Naples, Florida. They were able to split a double header winning the first game 3-1, but dropping the second 4-5. It has been an up and down season thus far, as the Panthers have staggered to an even record at 18-17 overall, and tied for third place with Miami-Dade at 8 – 8 in conference play. The Panthers are playing good baseball right now but are still looking to improve. Coach Forbes shared, “The pitching and defense have been solid so far and as our offense gains experience, we will improve.” Look out for pitcher Christian Calleja and Freshman Cody Wilson to make an impact as the season goes on.
The Panthers spring baseball season is scheduled to end with the last home game on April 19 against Eastern Florida State. And, the last away game on April 20.