By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (July 8, 2015) — Get ready to see a lot of aggression out of the Stephenville baseball team.
New head coach Justin Swenson, who took over the baseball program Monday, says that’s just his style.
It worked brilliantly at Iowa Park, where he was an assistant the last four years. Iowa Park was ranked No. 1 for much of last season before suffering its only losses against eventual state semifinalist Abilene Wylie in the regional quarterfinal round of the 4A baseball playoffs.
“I have a very aggressive approach to the game. We’re going to run a lot on the bases, be aggressive at the plate and put pressure on both outfielders and infielders,” said Swenson. “That’s what we were successful with at Iowa Park, so I’m going to try and bring that mentality here to Stephenville and put my own twist to it.”
Swenson replaces James Boxley, who left Stephenville after five years to be head coach at 6A Robert E. Lee High School in Tyler. Stephenville didn’t just lose Boxley but also a slew of senior starters after reaching the area round of the playoffs and falling to Venus.
“I hear we’ll be young, that we lost a bunch of seniors and only have two returning starters, but I’m just anxious to get to work,” Swenson said. “Being a part of what we built in Iowa Park showed me the right way to build a program up, and that’s what I want to do here.”
At Iowa Park, he was an assistant under his older brother, head coach Michael Swenson, and the star player was his younger brother, Westyn Swenson.
“My older brother was the assistant my last year playing, and when I came back here he was the head coach so I’ve been his assistant,” said Justin Swenson. “Our little brother was all-state in center field and he’s going to Grayson Community College to play. We’re definitely a big baseball family.”
A family many still believe coached and played on the best team in Class 4A last season.
“It didn’t end the way we wanted, but there is only one team in the state that has their season end the way they want,” said Justin Swenson. “But it was a great year. We were undefeated until running into Abilene Wylie, and it isn’t like we played a cupcake schedule. We beat Argyle, who went on to win the state championship. We were No. 1 eight or nine weeks in a row, so it was a great experience.”
The new Stephenville coach played baseball at Vernon College then finished his studies at Texas Tech, graduating in 2011. He has coached at Iowa Park each of the last four years. He coached receivers and was ultimately named passing game coordinator in football at Iowa Park.
“It looks like I’ll be in charge of freshman football,” he said. “I coached receivers at Iowa Park all four years and was passing coordinator last year, but I’ll coach wherever Coach (Greg) Winder needs me. I’m a team player.”
Karter Swenson, his wife of five years, is interviewing Wednesday for a teaching position at Hook Elementary School. They have a son, Maddux, 2.