With a half-dozen seniors graduating this spring off a Class 5A state runnerup team, coaches Shane Shallenberger and Brian Cronk hope the Clovis High summer baseball program will answer a lot of questions for next year’s squad.
Clovis opened its West Texas League schedule Tuesday night at Bell Park with a 14-6, 9-6 sweep of Lubbock Christian. Both games ended after five innings because of the league’s two-hour time limit.
“We have five guys (coming back) who had ample varsity experience,” Cronk said Wednesday. “We’re now having to find pieces to fill in the puzzle around them.”
Sean Cruce went 5-for-7 in the doubleheader, driving in four runs in the opener with a two-run single and a two-run double. Luke Gray went 2-for-3 at the plate in the opener and pitched 4 1/3 innings with five strikeouts to get the first-game win, while Cade Wheeler also went 2-for-3 at the plate and got the final two outs.
Seven players had at least one hit in that game for Clovis.
In the second game, Jared Montoya went 2-for-3 with an RBI double and a tie-breaking, bases-loaded triple in the fifth inning. He was thrown out at home trying for an inside-the-park grand slam, but time ran out as Clovis finishing batting in the inning.
Center fielder Matt Ulibarri was 2-for-3 with a double, three runs scored and four stolen bases, while second baseman Jordan Moore was 2-for-2 with a double and three runs scored. Cruce picked up the win with two-thirds of an inning in relief.
“It was a positive start to the summer,” Cronk said. “The kids were focused; anytime you score 14 runs in a game, it’s a positive.
“We’re going to find out a lot about these (younger) kids this summer. It’s a big learning process for them; they have to get used to playing at a different caliber.”
Clovis returns to action on Saturday with a noon (MDT) doubleheader at Amarillo High, and returns home for a 4 p.m. twin bill on Tuesday against Amarillo Tascosa.