Three weeks after being bounced out of the Class 5A state playoffs in the round of 16, Clovis High is ready to begin its month-long summer baseball program.
Assistant coach Shane Leatherwood will run the program, with head coach Shane Shallenberger taking more of a background role.
“It’s just a learning time for all of us, both coaches and players,” Leatherwood said. “Our three goals are to play hard, have fun and be able to learn.”
Clovis, which went 11-15 during the spring, will play a varsity and junior varsity schedule through June. The varsity travels to Shallowater, Texas, on Tuesday for the first of eight West Texas Baseball League twin bills.
Clovis has home-and-home WTBL dates scheduled against Shallowater, Hereford, Plainview and Levelland. Also on tap are non-league home-and-home twin bills against Hobbs and a home doubleheader against Portales.
A 12-team tournament is scheduled for next weekend, with games at Bell Park as well as Ram Field in Portales. Teams have been divided into three-team groups for pool play on Friday, with semifinal and final-round competition on Saturday.
Around 32 players are out for the program, and Leatherwood plans to have a squad of 12 for varsity play. The JV squad has a schedule with 14 doubleheaders, and will be coached by former CHS players Drew Hatley and Robert Riggins.
“All we’re trying to accomplish this summer is a new level of hustle, and just be able to learn,” Leatherwood said. “We’ve got to replace six seniors; one (Sean Cruce) was a four-year starter and another (Matt Ulibarri) was a three-year starter.”
At this point, Leatherwood said the roster consists of three players who will be seniors in 2006-07, plus three juniors, five sophomores and one freshman. Players who saw significant varsity time during the recently-completed spring campaign are senior pitcher-shortstop Cade Wheeler, senior outfielder-pitcher Jonathan Ware, junior third baseman Jarod Kiser, sophomore second baseman Omar Sosa and sophomore first baseman Parker Wood.
“The main thing is we’ve got to find a catcher,” Leatherwood said. “I believe if you get good catching, you’ve got a good team.
“We also have to establish an outfield. We don’t have any returning outfielders, other than Jonathan.”
The Clovis JV opens with a 5 p.m. twin bill against Canyon on Tuesday at Bell Park.