Clovis senior John Props catches the ball as a Sandia baserunner slides safe into second base during a District 4-5A game earlier this season. The Wildcats host Hobbs in a three-game series starting today at Bell Park. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)
By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
The Hobbs Eagles are in position for their first postseason baseball berth in six years.
Clovis High, on the other hand, would like nothing better to keep their longtime rival out of postseason play.
The teams finish the regular season with a three-game series at Bell Park, beginning with today’s 4 p.m. doubleheader.
Enjoying its best season since making the playoffs in 1999, Hobbs (15-8, 5-4 district), still trails second-place Sandia (16-7, 6-3) by a game. But the Eagles have the tiebreaker edge over the Matadors by virtue of a three-game sweep last week.
In other words, Hobbs must win one more game than Sandia this weekend to make the playoffs.
Sandia hosts district-leading Carlsbad (18-4, 8-1).
Meantime, the struggling Wildcats (8-15, 1-8) finally broke though in district play with an 8-5 victory in Saturday’s series finale at Cibola.
Senior John Props pitched a complete game, surviving a three-run Cougars first and finishing with six strikeouts over the final three innings.
“He settled down nicely after the first inning and did a good job,” CHS coach Shane Shallenberger said. “It’s big when the pitching staff gives us a chance.
“We have something to look forward to in this series — we have a chance to eliminate someone from the playoffs. It doesn’t matter who it is.”
Second-year Hobbs coach Tim Phillips said the Eagles can’t afford to take their rivals lightly.
“Clovis is a good ballclub,” he said. “They’re young and still trying to put things together. It’s always a big series when Clovis and Hobbs match up.”
Among Hobbs’ key players are senior center fielder Payton Taylor, junior pitcher-first baseman Cody Edwards and junior shortstop Josh May.
Still, Phillips said his team doesn’t feature a standout individual.
“Somebody (different) always steps up,” he said.
Shallenberger would like to see his team put together a good weekend after a disappointing run to this point in district play.
“I’m looking forward to (the series), and I hope the kids are,” Shallenberger said. “I just hope we play well these three games and finish the season on a good note.”