By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

GRAPELAND –The Grapeland Sandiettes were stopped just short of a trip to Austin last year as they fell to the Woden Lady Eagles – by a score of 3-2 – in the Regional Finals. A year later, and with the entire team coming back, the Sandiettes are ready to start another run at the state tournament.

With a team poised to make a serious bid for the Class 2A State Championship, however, Sandiettes Head Softball Coach Joel Barbosa “… left to take an Assistant Principal position in his hometown of Uvalde, Texas,” according to a statement from Grapeland ISD Superintendent Don Jackson.

Fortunately, the district didn’t have to look very far as it was announced on Friday, Jan. 4 that local softball instructor and Grapeland High School graduate Jim Ed Hughes had been hired as the Interim Head Softball Coach for the 2019 season.

“We are trying to balance what is best for our student-athletes and what is best for our school district at the same time – and – we feel that this is the proper direction to take at this time,” the GISD superintendent explained.

“We are glad to have someone who we feel is qualified and available who can help us transition to a new coach after the unexpected departure of Coach Barbosa,” Jackson said.

According to information provided by the district, Hughes will be hired as a full time employee on an interim basis and will start immediately.

“This will allow him the time and opportunity to receive the necessary training regulated by The University Interscholastic League,” Jackson stated.

In a Friday, Jan. 4 Facebook post, Hughes expressed excitement his opportunity “… to start this journey with a great group of young ladies. I’m very blessed to be able to coach such a great team and one of the best programs in the state.”

He added, “This has been a dream of mine for a long time – to go back home and coach the softball team. It means a lot to me.”

The first day for softball practice as set by the UIL is Jan. 18.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.