Baseball, softball get started

Clovis High’s Jarod Kiser throws the ball across the diamond during the Wildcats’ practice on Tuesday at Bell Park. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

The snowstorm that passed through the area a couple of weeks ago left Clovis High’s baseball and softball teams wondering just when they would get on the field.
The first official day of practice for both was Monday, and on Tuesday they were able to do some limited work with snow and mud still mucking up parts of the fields.

The baseball team opens its season Feb. 22-24 with the eight-team Clovis Invitational at Bell Park. The Lady Wildcats’ version of the same event comes the following weekend at Lady Wildcat Complex.

“We had to make some plans” in the event they couldn’t get on the field, sixth-year baseball coach Shane Shallenberger said. “We were able to work inside (at Rock Staubus Gym) a little, but there’s only so many things you can do inside.

“The kids are excited to get out on the field, that’s for sure.”

Softball coach Brandi Thomas said her team got outside on Monday, but didn’t get much done.

“We did a little bit of stuff yesterday, but today was the first day we had them in position,” said Thomas, starting her third year as head coach and eighth year in the program. “We looked pretty good for having been (confined to) the gym for six weeks.”

The Lady Cats went 13-14 last season — the best record in the 12-year history of the program — and lost to West Mesa 5-0 in a first-round Class 5A state tournament game. It was the first postseason action in the program’s history.

Thomas said that with eight seniors and about 10 players with previous varsity experience, the team is hoping for bigger and better things.

Meantime, Shallenberger’s squad has a few more holes to fill. Only five regulars return from last year’s 11-15 squad.

“Coming off summer ball, at least we have some good ideas,” Shallenberger said. “We were really young during the summer, but I feel like we’re further ahead now.”