Surina leads Lady Cats to tourney title

Clovis’ Jordan Garrett is congratulated by teammates after hitting an inside-the-park home run in Saturday’s tourney championship against Hobbs. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)

By John Eisel: CNJ sports writer

Clovis coach Brandi Thomas said on an average season, the team has three no-hitters.

Senior Julie Surina is doing her best to make sure the team fills that quota.

In her first varsity start, she allowed only a single walk as Clovis blew by Lovington 10-0 in five innings in the first round of the Lady Wildcat Softball Invitational.

Then in the second game, Surina pitched the first two innings before junior Rachelle Urban finished off a 16-0 win over Dimmitt, Texas. Surina gave up a few hits and one run in the championship game to Hobbs but Clovis still came out 11-1 victors.

“To come out on your first showing and throw a no-hitter, I think that shows how much she’s grown up,” Thomas said. “She knows her position and she knows what she’s got to do to help the team out.”

Surina relies on her defense for outs. Instead of trying to strike out the opposing batter, she puts the ball in just the right location or with just enough movement that the batter is likely to swing, but not make good contact with the ball.

It helps that she has faith in the players behind her.

“Having that defense behind me makes me know that if they do get a hit off me, I have a defense to back me up,” Surina said.

Senior Annie Tweedy said defense is one of the strengths of the team.

“Laura (Wood) and Sonia (Chavez) are holding down the left side of the field and the outfield is stepping up everyday day, getting better,” Tweedy said. “It’s going real good.”

Tweedy said she’s seen the improvement in Surina.

“You could tell just from last year,” said Tweedy. “She has more control, speed increased, more movement on the ball.”

Surina said over the offseason she’s worked on her curve, drop pitch and riser, which she said is crucial.

“You need to throw off the batter,” Surina said.

Surina spent her first three years on junior varsity. Last year graduated senior Paige Adare got most of the work on the mound and coaches wanted Surina to pitch rather than sit on the bench.

“I think that helped her tremendously staying down on JV,” Thomas said. “She stepped back and accepted it. She didn’t pout or anything over it.”

“I just figured I’d get all the experience I could get on JV,” Surina said.

She’s already had a memorable experience on varsity.
“Throwing a no-hitter is something special,” Thomas said. “Even to (U.S. Olympic pitcher) Jenny Finch, that is something special to be able to get 21 outs with no one hitting the ball.”