By Eric Butler
Moriarty baseball coach Michael Chavez was looking forward to the opportunity to come to the east part of the state — in order to escape the snow.
Chavez and his Pintos are among the eight teams in the three-day Clovis Invitational baseball tournament at Bell Park scheduled to begin today.
“We have 11 inches of snow in Moriarty,” said Chavez on Wednesday morning. “I need to get hold of (Clovis coach Shane) Shallenberger and see if we can get on their field sometime.”
Any field would be good for the Pintos, who lost to St. Pius in the Class 4A state championship game last year, as Moriarty has been unable to practice outdoors for a sustained period of time.
“About a week now, really. We’ll be in the gym today and we’ll head out (to Clovis) after practice,” Chavez said.
Though Clovis received half as much snow as in Moriarty, the level of moisture on the field at Bell Park was a major concern on Wednesday.
Shallenberger and the Wildcat players and coaching staff were working frantically Wednesday to remove the snow that blanketed the field. Weighing in Clovis’ favor is the infield was covered by a tarp.
“In the worst-case scenario, we may have to go Friday-Saturday and play all the games there,” Shallenberger said. “Basically, we would have to play from 8 in the morning to the last game starting at 8 at night.”
Moriarty is one of several quality teams in the tournament, which was won last year by Levelland, Texas. The Pintos are scheduled to play at noon against Rio Rancho — a perennial playoff team in Class 5A.
Two of Moriarty’s returning players — pitcher Bobby Moore and slugging first baseman Kyle Blanks — have already signed to play with the University of New Mexico next year. But Blanks won’t be around for the Clovis tournament as he’s on the Pintos basketball team, which will play on Thursday night in its district tournament.
Levelland is back for the 2004 event which also includes defending Class 3A state champion St. Michael’s. But, like Moriarty, St. Michael’s is without key components to start the baseball season. Although the Horsemen only graduated one player off that title team, many of the St. Mike’s athletes are still playing basketball.
at Bell Park
Levelland, Texas vs. Hobbs, 2:30 p.m.
Rio Rancho vs. Moriarty, 5 p.m.
Amarillo Palo Duro vs. St. Michael’s, 7:30 p.m.
Clovis vs. Fabens, Texas, 8 a.m.