MIDLOTHIAN – When you play catcher at Midlothian, there are certain expectations. You’re expected to be defensively sound. You’re expected to swing the bat well. You’re expected to be a leader. And, as of late, you’re expected to keep playing well beyond high school.

Last week, Justin Shealy fulfilled the last of those as expected. Shealy, a senior for the Panther program, signed his letter of intent to keep playing baseball at Clarendon Junior College.

“It feels good. It feels really good. I’m happy that I found a place to play,” Shealy said. “Great coaches, a great program and I’m just happy that I found that I’m getting to go play there.”

Following in a long line of standouts behind the plate, Shealy spent the last few years sharing duties with teammate Colton Clanton. While they might have split time, both were team leaders in the dugout and on the field.

For his senior season, Shealy batted .291 with six RBI and four doubles. He also stole four bases.

Last spring, Shealy was the season-saving hero for Midlothian in the playoffs against Red Oak. In extra innings, Shealy smoked a ball to third base that was booted for an error, allowing the game-winning run to cross home and propel the Panthers to an area round series with Texas High. That moment still stands as one of his all-time favorites.

Coach Ray Hydes called the opportunity for his senior “outstanding” and cited his work ethic and passion for the game as a major reason why he has been able to get so far. Later that day, Shealy was presented with the team superlative for most dedicated, further recognition of his efforts both on and off the field.

Hydes was proud for both Shealy as an individual and proud for the reputation Midlothian has received as a place known for its catchers.

“We’ve been very blessed. We’ve had Mikey Horn then we went to Brandon Bales and after Bales we went to Rick Stover and now after Stover we’ve come down to Shealy,” Hydes said. “We’ve just been really blessed. It’s really neat that our kids do that and get the opportunity to do that kind of stuff.”

Shealy doesn’t plan to stop his career after two years at Clarendon and already has a eye on the future.

Over the next few semesters, he hopes to knock out some of his core classes at Clarendon while eventually he has the goal of transferring to a four-year school to finish up his degree as a physical therapist.

While that’s the ultimate goal, Shealy is now focused on making waves at Clarendon by becoming the best catcher on the team roster. The coaches have already told him he’s got a chance to contend for significant playing time next spring, depending on how he does in the fall. Showing them he belongs is priority number one.

“Basically the fall is like your tryout so you go out and you perform in the fall. You hit the ball and throw people out and you’ll have a spot in the spring. That’s what I’m looking to do,” Shealy said.

Contact Alex at alex.riley@wninews.com or at 469-517-1456.