Saxony Lutheran baseball coach Paul Sander has hit another milestone as the Crusaders skipper. He was recognized for winning his 200th game before the game against East Carter County on April 13.
Sander said he has been “blessed” in several ways during his tenure with the Crusaders.
“To reach that kind of milestone, you have to stay at one place for a long time,” Sander said. “You have to have a lot of great players and I’ve been allowed to coach the teams the way I’ve wanted and the administration has been really supportive. It’s all worked out for me and Saxony has been a great place to be and I’ve really enjoyed it.”
Sander is currently in his 15th year as head coach of the Crusaders and holds a career record of 214-99-1 and has had only one season where the team finished below the .500 mark. When Sander began coaching at Saxony there were only 13 players on the roster. In past years, Sander has had as many as 40 players try out for the baseball team and this year he had 32 players try out.
It all started with a plan Sander made out all those years ago. That plan has helped Sander win three district championships, two sectional titles and make the final four for the first time in school history in 2019. During his tenure, he’s had 66 all-district and 14 all-state selections, and many players go on to reach the college ranks, including three players on this year’s team. Eli Brown and Tanner King signed with Lindenwood, while Will LeDure signed with Fontbonne University on April 22.
“When I started at Saxony, it was only the second year the program had existed,” Sander said. “The 13 players are enough to play varsity baseball, but I wanted to build the program that would be respected by those in the community and that players would want to be a part of. To build Saxony baseball to what it is today where we can play a full junior varsity schedule and have a kid play four years, and when their time is right, they contribute to the team, is something I take pride in.”
While Sander is proud of the team success over the years, he is equally if not more pleased with the field itself. So much so that if a person wanted to talk with Sander, the first place to look would be at the baseball field.
Sander has raised more that $200,000 over the course of his coaching career that has went straight to improvements to the field. When Sander began at Saxony there was only a backstop and an outfield fence. Improvements started with the infield dirt and grass infield and have been expanded to roofs on the dugouts, a pair of batting cages, bleachers for the fans, and an exterior fence to enclose the field.
“I had this vision of what I wanted the infrastructure of the ballpark to look like over a 15-20 year period,” Sander said. “I wanted Saxony Lutheran to have one of the better Class 3 facilities in the state. I like to have at least one project per season to improve the field.”
This year’s team is 13-1 and currently ranked No. 2 in the state in Class 3. Sander didn’t expect his squad to go undefeated this season, nor does he expect his team to go undefeated the rest of the way. He’s approaching the season one game at a time, much like he approaches his coaching career. Sander would love to reach 300 victories at Saxony Lutheran, but like everything else, he has a plan that he has executed for the past several seasons.
“What I like to do is give it about one month and look at whether I’m still good at this job and whether the administration wants me back, and whether or not I still want to coach,” Sander said. “If all those answers are yes I come back. I love coaching at Saxony and want to be here as long as I’m able. I couldn’t imagine being anywhere else.”