Summer season begins Tuesday for CHS baseball

CNJ staff

Three weeks after being bounced out of the Class 5A state playoffs in the round of 16, Clovis High is ready to begin its month-long summer baseball program.

Assistant coach Shane Leatherwood will run the program, with head coach Shane Shallenberger taking more of a background role.

“It’s just a learning time for all of us, both coaches and players,” Leatherwood said. “Our three goals are to play hard, have fun and be able to learn.”

Clovis, which went 11-15 during the spring, will play a varsity and junior varsity schedule through June. The varsity travels to Shallowater, Texas, on Tuesday for the first of eight West Texas Baseball League twin bills.

Clovis has home-and-home WTBL dates scheduled against Shallowater, Hereford, Plainview and Levelland. Also on tap are non-league home-and-home twin bills against Hobbs and a home doubleheader against Portales.

A 12-team tournament is scheduled for next weekend, with games at Bell Park as well as Ram Field in Portales. Teams have been divided into three-team groups for pool play on Friday, with semifinal and final-round competition on Saturday.

Around 32 players are out for the program, and Leatherwood plans to have a squad of 12 for varsity play. The JV squad has a schedule with 14 doubleheaders, and will be coached by former CHS players Drew Hatley and Robert Riggins.

“All we’re trying to accomplish this summer is a new level of hustle, and just be able to learn,” Leatherwood said. “We’ve got to replace six seniors; one (Sean Cruce) was a four-year starter and another (Matt Ulibarri) was a three-year starter.”

At this point, Leatherwood said the roster consists of three players who will be seniors in 2006-07, plus three juniors, five sophomores and one freshman. Players who saw significant varsity time during the recently-completed spring campaign are senior pitcher-shortstop Cade Wheeler, senior outfielder-pitcher Jonathan Ware, junior third baseman Jarod Kiser, sophomore second baseman Omar Sosa and sophomore first baseman Parker Wood.

“The main thing is we’ve got to find a catcher,” Leatherwood said. “I believe if you get good catching, you’ve got a good team.

“We also have to establish an outfield. We don’t have any returning outfielders, other than Jonathan.”

The Clovis JV opens with a 5 p.m. twin bill against Canyon on Tuesday at Bell Park.