Clovis first baseman Parker Wood is late applying the pickoff tag to Portales baserunner Brandon Adkins during Saturday’s scrimmage at Bell Park. (CNJ staff photo: Kevin Wilson)
By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
Seventh-year Clovis High baseball coach Shane Shallenberger isn’t sure what to expect from the Wildcats this spring.
With only about five players with returning experience, he knows the team enters the season with question marks.
“This team that we’re going to put on the field this year is going to have some ups and downs,” Shallenberger said as the team prepares for its season-opening Clovis Invitational beginning Thursday at Bell Park. “The thing with them is they show up (ready to play) every day.”
Even some “veterans” are young, like first baseman Parker Wood and second baseman Omar Sosa, both sophomores.
Wood said the Cats (12-15 in 2006, 2-6 in District 4-5A) are pretty much set in the infield, and newcomers will man many of the other positions.
“Everyone’s working for their spots,” Wood said. “I think we’ve got a lot more hustle and more pep in our step this year.”
Senior Jarod Kiser is scheduled to play third while senior Cade Wheeler will play short when he’s not pitching. Wheeler and senior Jonathan Ware are the Cats’ top two pitchers.
Senior T.J. Farmer is scheduled to be the catcher after moving up from the junior varsity, but Wheeler could also see time there. Leading outfield contenders are junior Andrew Gilliard in left, sophomore Moses Bibb or Farmer in center and Ware or junior Josh Burrell in right.
Burrell and Wood will probably also see pitching duty.
Wood said he thinks pitching is tougher than playing a position.
“It’s a lot of stress on you,” he said. “I had a tough time with it (during the summer season).”
He said the key is for the team to play hard.
“We just have to hustle,” he said. “We just have to play the game the right way, do the fundamentals.
“If you hustle, you’re going to have a successful year.”
Shallenberger said the Cats are probably going to have to manufacture runs most of the time.
“I think we’ll have to play the short game,” he said. “We’ll have to get on base and move runners, maybe squeeze a little and (use the) hit-and-run.
“Defensively we can’t make errors on routine plays.”
All three teams in the district were hard-hit by graduation, but perennial 5A power Carlsbad figures to be the favorite this spring, Shallenberger said.
“I think they lost nine seniors, but they have five or six seniors back who can play,” he said.
22-24 — Clovis Invitational (22 vs. Hereford, 5 p.m.).
3 — Amarillo Palo Duro (2), 1 p.m.p; 8-10 — at Rio Rancho tournament (8 vs. Santa Fe High, 1 p.m.); 13 — Amarillo Tascosam 3:30 p.m.; 16 — Levelland, 4 p.m.; 24 — Alamogordo (2), 1 p.m.; 31 — at Artesia (2), 1 p.m.
3 — at Roswell High (2), 4 p.m.; 7 — Roswell Goddard (2), 1 p.m.; 14 — Carlsbad (2), 1 p.m.-x; 17 — at Hobbs (2), 4 p.m.-x; 28 — Carlsbad (2), 1 p.m.-x.
1 — Hobbs (2), 4 p.m.-x.
All times Mountain. x-Denotes District 4-5A games.
1 Ricky Sanchez, So., C; 2 Jarod Kiser, Jr., IF; 3 Michael Sena, So., OF; 4 Cade Wheeler, Sr., P/SS; 5 T.J. Farmer, Sr., C/OF; 6 Omar Sosa, So., IF; 8 Moses Bibbs, So., OF; 9 Andrew Gilliard, Jr., OF; 10 Jordan Jacobs, Jr., OF; 11 Ryan Wimberly, Sr., P/OF; 13 Parker Wood, So., P/1B; 14 Josh Burrell, Jr., P/OF; 16 Emery Sierra, Fr., IF; 18 Jonathan Ware, Sr., P/OF.