MISSION — This past weekend was one for the record books for the playoff qualifiers from District 31-5A, but it was extra special for Sharyland High coach Barton Bickerton.
With the Rattlers’ 2-0 win over Corpus Christi King on Saturday that sent Sharyland to the third round, the longtime coach also reached the 500th victory of his career, the team’s 30th of the season, and a win on Mother’s Day weekend.
“I actually got emotional about it. I didn’t think I would, but it was just such a relief. It was something I didn’t think we’d get to this year. I figured it’d be something next year,” Bickerton said. “The way it happened — winning the series against a Corpus team, kind of the Valley road block for a long time and getting the 500th win, 30th win of the year — it was a little hard to take there for a second at the end of the game. My wife came out on the field and it was tough for me.”
While the milestone moment was tough for him, the Rattlers have been tough on all opponents this season. Sharyland High (30-4, 12-2) won the District 31-5A championship and currently is the No. 9-ranked team in 5A after its second-round series sweep of King, according to the Texas High School Baseball Association.
Sharyland Pioneer coach Casey Smith, who spent years working alongside Bickerton as an assistant at Sharyland High, considers the Rattlers coach his mentor. Smith said the best part looking back was being in the grind and accomplishing things together.
“I was fortunate enough that I got to work for Bart. He’s a great baseball mind, but more importantly, he’s a good man. He’s about teaching kids how to do things the right way, how to make people accountable. As far as knowing how to run a program, he did a great job preparing me for that,” said Smith, whose Diamondbacks also advanced into the third round of the playoffs this past weekend.
One of Bickerton’s current assistants has had the pleasure of playing for the 500-win coach and now working alongside him. Current Sharyland High assistant Brian Valencia, who graduated from the school in 2011, considers Bickerton the best in the Valley.
“For me, being part of the 500th win, it’s a big thing for us. It was very emotional. I was very happy for him, because playing for him, I learned a lot, but now, since I’m working with him, I’ve been learning a lot and he’s the best coach I’ve ever had,” Valencia said.
Bickerton serves as an officer in the Texas High School Baseball Coaches Association and brings scouts from the San Diego Padres down in the RGV to get a first-hand look at some of the South Texas talent.
“I just want people to know that our kids are just as good as anybody else. We played King. I think they had five guys signed, three D-I, and they kept asking me, ‘Where this kid’s going? Where’s this kid going?’ I said none of my kids have signed. It’d be nice if we can start getting that recognition a little bit farther south and get our kids signed a little bit earlier,” Bickerton said. “For me, that’s the biggest thing, for these kids to get a little bit more recognition.”