Every year, Clovis High softball coach Brandi Thomas knows her team’s work is cut out trying to compete in District 4-5A with Carlsbad and Hobbs, both well-established programs.
Every year, she hopes this is the year.
“We’re pretty athletic,” said Thomas, beginning her 13th season in the program and her ninth as head coach. “We graduated some important (players) last year, so we’re going to have some young kids step up.
“It’s really early right now, but hopes are high. We have a lot of room to grow, but we have the enthusiasm and the willingness.”
The Lady Wildcats (3-22, 0-8 district last season) open their 2013 schedule on Tuesday at Lubbock Monterey.
Thomas, a 1994 CHS graduate, says the main difference between her program and the others is the lack of a real feeder program.
“Until we get a feeder program and get kids committed to playing fast-pitch, there will always be that battle,” she said.
The roster includes three seniors — left fielder Lyndsi LeClear, pitcher Andrea Ramos and infielder Breann Albracht. LeClear and Albracht saw extensive duty last season, while Ramos returns after missing last season with academic issues.
LeClear, who has been a regular since her sophomore year, said she’s anxious to help turn things around.
“I just want to win,” she said. “It’s frustrating we haven’t had good results the last couple of years, but I’m hoping for a little better this year.”
Junior Andrea Aguilar, the Lady Cats’ do-everything player, handled much of the pitching in Ramos’ absence last season. She’ll see a lot of time in center field and second base, and is valuable to the team wherever she plays.
Also back are junior outfielder Kyleigh Guthals, who played mainly right field last season, and sophomore shortstop Ashley Gallagher. Others with experience include sophomore pitcher-outfielder A.J. Wright, first baseman-designated player Micah Morris and junior catcher Denae Gallegos, who split time last season with the graduated Connie Morris and will likely do the same this spring with sophomore Stephanie Gulley.
Newcomers who may be able to help are junior third baseman Alicia Martinez, freshman infielder Mariah Chavez and sophomore Denise Garcia.
Thomas is confident the Lady Cats can challenge their district rivals.
“I think we can beat Hobbs, and I think we can compete with Carlsbad if we can just get over the mentality that it’s Carlsbad,” she said.
That’s what LeClear is trying to do.
“(Beating) Carlsbad is my goal,” she said. “That would be really awesome if we can get that win. I just want to have a winning season.”
26 — at Lubbock Monterey, 5 p.m.
5 — Amarillo High, 6:30 p.m.; 9 — Rio Rancho Cleveland (2), 11 a.m.; 15-16 — at Las Cruces tournament; 19 — Artesia (2), 4:30 p.m.); 22 — at Roswell Goddard, 6 p.m.; 30 — vs. Cibola, 11 a.m., and vs. Sandia, 1 p.m., at Albuquerque.
2 — at Portales, 6:30 p.m.; 9 — Roswell High (2), 4:30 p.m.; 16 — Hobbs (2), 1 p.m.-x; 20 — Portales, 1 p.m.; 23 — at Carlsbad (2), 4:30 p.m.-x; 26 — at Hobbs (2), 4:30 p.m.-x; 30 — Carlsbad (2), 4:30 p.m.-x.
All times Mountain. x-Denotes District 4-5A games.