Clovis head coach Brandi Thomas talks to her team before hitting the field for fielding drills Friday at the Lady Wildcats Softball Complex. (Staff photo: Eric Kluth)
By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
Big sticks bring attention to the diamond, but first-year Clovis softball coach Brandi Thomas is hoping that the little things — things like sound baserunning and solid defense — will take her Wildcats to new levels.
Clovis finished with a 12-12 record in 2004, but only a 4-8 district mark. In the eight-year history of the softball program, the school has never earned a postseason berth.
That’s something that Thomas, who took over in the summer for Larry Trower, is aiming to change. Trower resigned at the end of the school year after three seasons at Clovis for family reasons.
“I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people this year,” Thomas said. “I think we’re going to give a real eye-opener for Clovis and let Clovis see what we’ve been doing, what we’ve been working hard at.”
Senior all-district shortstop Laura Wood and fellow senior Annie Tweedy at third base provide a solid, experienced leftside in the Clovis infield.
“Everybody knows what to do, what’s coming. Basically, it comes down to baserunning, hitting, fundamentals — everything,” said Wood, who brightens at the idea of possibly being part of the school’s first playoff team. “It would be a great deal. It would like be the highlight of my life.”
The major graduation loss for the Wildcats was pitcher Paige Adare, a mainstay on the mound for the past three years. Thomas says that senior Julie Surina and junior Rachelle Urban are expected to help make up for Adare’s absence.
“We’ve got a real strong defense that I think we’ll be OK,” Thomas said. “As long as they can get us ground balls and pop flies.”
Tweedy, who has also pitched for the past two years, is also hoping to throw during her senior year.
“I’m just taking some time right now, because I hurt my groin. So we’re just giving it some time to heal,” Tweedy said.
Rounding out the infield is Cynthia Lucio and Megan Roubison, two sophomores, at first base and another young tandem at second — sophomore Angelica Serna and freshman Samantha Ramos. Maria Gallegos, another sophomore, and junior Nichole Holguin will vie for the catcher’s job.
Thomas has a pair of returnees in the outfield in sophomore Jordan Garrett and junior Valerie Morris. In right, junior Lucretia McGhee and sophomore Renee Gallegos will see time.
Yet another sophomore, Sonia Chavez, will likely be the regular designated hitter for the ‘Cats.
And Thomas hasn’t forgotten the importance of hitting, even while stressing other fundamental skills.
“We’re hitting the ball hard and that’s something that the coaching staff is trying to get in their minds — the philosophy that we hit hard,” Thomas said.
“I told our booster club the other day, ‘Hey, I think we’ve got a chance.’ These kids have the determination to come out and play.”
March 4-5 Clovis Invite
March 8 Roswell
March 12 at Goddard
March 18-19 Las Cruces Tourn.
April 1-2 Ladydog Invite
April 8-9 Carlsbad*
April 15-16 at Sandia*
April 29-30 Cibola*
May 6-7 at Hobbs*
May 12-14 state tourney
* — denotes district game