CHS set to make coaching changes

By Dave Wagner
dwagner@cnjonline.com
Clovis High will have new head coaches in baseball and softball next spring.

Athletic director Dale Fullerton said Friday that baseball coach Shane Leatherwood will not be retained for a third season, while adding that softball coach Brandi Thomas has resigned after 10 seasons at the helm and 15 overall in the program.

Fullerton said the school will open both positions for a period of five days next week, and then evaluate the pool of candidates to perhaps keep one or both open longer.

The CHS baseball team went 8-18 this season (3-5 District 4-5A) and was 16-36 in Leatherwood’s two years at the helm.

“We needed to go in a different direction,” Fullerton said. “It wasn’t working out.”

The Wildcats did take a step up in district play this year after going 1-7 in 2013. They also lost one-run decisions at both Hobbs and Carlsbad.

“It was fun while it lasted,” said Leatherwood, a 1998 CHS graduate and a math teacher at the high school. “I enjoyed coaching, and I’m leaving a good group of boys behind.”

Leatherwood said he was surprised when he got the word on Tuesday.

“I knew we had kind of a rough year, but I thought we improved in a lot of areas,” he said.

Assistant coaches Drooper Greenwalt and Cory Adams are running the Cats’ summer program, which has a number of games scheduled through early July. Clovislost several players, mainly seniors, to disciplinary situations during the season, but is slated to return 13 of 14 who ended the campaign on the varsity.

Thomas, also a CHS alum (1994), led the Lady Wildcats to the second Class 5A state berth in the program’s history. Clovis lost to second-seeded Onate 8-2 in the round of 16.

The Lady Cats went 11-16 (3-5 district), the first time they’ve reached double figures in wins since 2007, after starting the season 1-7. Fullerton acknowledged that without a true feeder program, it’s been tough to get the program competitive.

“It’s just a hard situation in Clovis not having a feeder program,” he said.

The Lady Cats did show signs in 2014, beating Carlsbad for just the second time in program history and sweeping a late-season home doubleheader from Hobbs en route to slipping into the playoffs.

Thomas coached one season under Clark Evans and four under Larry Trower before taking over the program in 2005. She led the Lady Cats to a state berth in 2006, where they lost in the first round at West Mesa.

“It’s been a great 15 years,” Thomas said. “I wish the program the best of luck. I bleed purple and I always will.”

Thomas, a physical education teacher at Gattis Middle School, said she expects to continue her role as a varsity volleyball assistant at CHS in the fall.