Glenn baseball coach Zac Darling knew he wanted to be a baseball coach since he was a teenager.
After spending three years as the pitching coach at Vista Ridge, he took over the brand new program at Glenn. As the second year heats up, the Grizzlies have their eyes fixed on the playoffs.
“When this school was opening, I looked at it and thought that might be a perfect time to make the jump,” Darling said. “I was drawn since I knew Leander was going to open a new school. It was kind of like destiny I guess. I’m living the dream.”
While he could focus in on who was pitching as an assistant with the Rangers, there are more administrative duties now that he’s a head coach like making sure he has a scorekeeper or administrators during the game.
Darling still handles the pitchers and catchers as well as the infield, while assistant Alberto Guzman is in charge of the outfielders.
On the field, the first year was rough, as the team only won a single game and did it via tiebreaker. But as a team of freshman and sophomores in a district with Salado and Liberty Hill — both of which advanced to the regional quarterfinals — growing pains were to be expected.
As the wins were extremely hard to come by, celebrations came in different ways. There were times the team would cheer if they got a hit or a big strikeout. Those were the moments they could celebrate as a team.
“Last year was about building confidence,” Darling said. “We picked very small battles to celebrate. Now, the kids are progressing and we want to fight for a playoff spot and we want that to be normal around here.”
Darling said shortstop Daniel Vazquez and second baseman Noah Saucedo have done a great job defensibly and at the top of the lineup and Carson Garza — a first-team selection a year ago — is getting his timing down.
On the mound, the Grizzlies pitch by committee. Darling said they don’t have any power arms and it comes down to who wants to come in and get the job done and said Austin Martin has the ability to start or come out of the bullpen.
“There are challenges every day, but it’s a fun group,” Darling said. “We didn’t have a lot of physically mature kids last year. This year, we’ve been working really hard int he weight rooms and we’re seeing the results. The leadership is getting better.”
Even as mostly sophomore and juniors, he said the team still sees the big picture and understands what they’re trying to build.
Glenn returns home next Tuesday night against Taylor.
A season ago, the coaches were trying to get the team to take pride in their at-bats or even getting the mound ready for a game. Those small details have been few and far between this season.
“We’re competing at a higher level,” Darling said. “The kids are taking more ownership. We’re seeing the accountability of teammates being accountable to each other. If we can keep mastering that, we’re going to go to great places.”