Clovis senior Mark Replogle leads the team in runs scored and stolen bases.
By Rick White
T he sun creeps higher in the clearing blue sky Wednesday as Mark Replogle tracks down a lazy line drive in the outfield.
With designs on a district title and a run at the school’s first state baseball championship, Clovis is off to an 8-1 start and Replogle is a big part of it.
At any given time, the speedy senior can be found behind the plate, at shortstop, or center field. The one constant is his spot at the top of the batting order, where he is the catalyst for a potent Wildcats offense.
Clovis coach Shane Shallenberger said Replogle has flourished is his new multiple roles.
“He’s a big leader on our team,” Shallenberger said. “He’s really stepped up and shown the willingness to do whatever it takes to win.
“It’s hard to play three positions and be good at it.”
The third-year Clovis coach said Replogle’s versatility is a luxury because instead of moving multiple players around and possibly being weaker at each position, he can plug Replogle in where needed.
Replogle is most comfortable patrolling center field, where his quickness and instincts helped turn line drives and long drives into outs. He has some experience behind the plate — he was the Wildcats’ emergency catcher last season — but he’s never played infield.
“I’ve been giving coach a hard time about playing infield for two years and he finally gave me a chance,” Replogle said. “I knew I could do it, but he never let me.”
Playing in three key defensive positions — he fills in at catcher and shortstop when starters Richard Urban and Jason Seefeld are pitching — keeps him more involved in the game.
“Sometimes you can go a whole game in the outfield without a ball hit to you,” he said.
Stepping into the leadoff role has been another adjustment. Replogle batted ninth last year, but now he’s being asked to take more pitches and invent ways to get on base.
“I have to take some pitches and just try to get on base any way I can,” said Replogle, who is hitting .571 and leads the team in runs score and stolen bases. “When I batted in the nine hole, I just had to do whatever I could.”
But old habits die hard.
“Every once in a while, I still hack at the first pitch I see,” Replogle said.
Sophomore second baseman Sean Cruce said Replogle is always quick with a smile or a joke.
“He has fun no matter what he’s doing,” said Cruce, who bats second, which means he sees a lot more fastballs when Replogle is on base — which is often.
“He can open up a lot of holes with his speed,” said Cruce, who leads the team in hitting. “Plus if I can move him over on a bunt, somebody else can knock him in.”
Replogle said he’s just trying to do what he can to help the Wildcats return to the state playoffs and make his last year of baseball as enjoyable as possible.
“I’m not planning on trying to play baseball in college. I’m having a lot of fun just going out and playing.”