Clovis High’s Lynnae Logan, left, Laura Gulley, center, and Valerie Gallegos cheer as a teammate makes a hit during a team scrimmage on Thursday at Lady Wildcat Complex. (CNJ staff photo: Andy DeLisle)
By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
The Clovis High softball team made its first appearance in the Class 5A state tournament last year, and is hoping to build on it.
Third-year coach Brandi Thomas said a first-round playoff loss to eventual state champion West Mesa left a positive impact on her current players.
“They’ve said that last year is something to build on and that they’re ready to go,” said Thomas, who led the Lady Wildcats to a 13-13 record last season.
For this year’s Lady Cats, the hitting attack will likely often be put into motion by seniors Jordan Garrett and Maria Gallegos, who are small in stature but carry big bats.
“Jordan’s deadly with her speed and her bat,” Thomas said. “And Maria’s been hitting really well.”
Garrett, who saw time at shortstop last season, will mostly be used in the outfield this spring while Gallegos is slated to play in center field.
“You have to go up there thinking that you’re 6 feet tall,” Garrett said. “You have to have a lot of confidence.
“A lot of people doubt us because of our size. They say, ‘Oh, she’s a small girl. She’s not going anywhere with that ball.’ But, if they underestimate us, we’ll boom it right over their heads. You have to go up there thinking that you’re something.”
Around the horn in the infield, seniors Sonia Chavez and Lorena Garza will see time at first while junior Samantha Ramos will likely play either second or shortstop. Sophomores Nicole Anaya and Britteny Mascarenas, at short and third respectively, may see some significant playing time.
Senior Laura Gulley is slated to be the Lady Cats’ catcher, while freshman Lynnae Logan and sophomore Adrianna Aguilar will get the first shots at being the Clovis pitchers this season.
Thomas said the key to success for Logan and Aguilar is keeping their emotions in check and letting their defense work for them.
“They’ve really been working their tails off,” Thomas said. “They pitched during the whole summer and all during fall ball, and we’ve been in the gym many, many times with them.”
In Thomas’ first season as head coach, in 2005, the Wildcats were also dead-even with a 12-12 mark.
“If we can put the ball in play and cut down on the mental mistakes, we’ll be all right,” Thomas said. “We’re itchin’ to play.”
The state tournament was cut from 16 to 12 teams this season.
2-3 — Clovis Invitational (2 vs. Lubbock Christian, 3 p.m.); 13 — Roswell Goddard (2), 4 p.m.; 16-17 — at Las Cruces tournament, TBA; 20 — Artesia (1), 5 p.m.; 27 — at Roswell High (2), 5 p.m.; 30-31 — Ladydog Invitational at Artesia, TBA.
7 — at Carlsbad (2), 1 p.m.-x; 10 — Hobbs (2), 4 p.m.-x; 14 — at Roswell Goddard (2), 1 p.m.; 21 — Carlsbad (2), 1 p.m.-x; 24 — at Hobbs (2), 4 p.m.-x.
All Times Mountain. x-Denotes District 4-5A games.