Clovis High’s softball team will be put to the test right off the bat.
Playing in a tournament hosted by defending Class 4A champion Piedra Vista at Farmington, the Lady Wildcats get — you guessed it — the homestanding Lady Panthers in today’s 9 a.m. first-round matchup.
Still, sixth-year coach and 1994 CHS grad Brandi Thomas says her team is ready to take on all comers.
“We’re young and we’re fearless,” Thomas said. “We’ve had three really good weeks of practice.”
The Lady Cats (8-16, 0-8 District 4-5A last season) return five players with significant varsity experience from a year ago in sophomore pitcher Andrea Ramos, junior catcher Connie Medina, sophomore shortstop Jessy Martinez, senior third baseman Felicia Aguilar and senior center fielder Cassie Nelson.
Thomas said Ramos is ready to take the lead roll on the pitching staff.
“Andrea’s grown up mentally,” Thomas said. “She knows her job is to let the defense work for her. She’s not going to overpower many people.”
Martinez played right field most of last season and hit well for the Lady Cats, but she’s now able to return to her more natural position.
“I’ve played shortstop all my life,” she said. “Last year I played the outfield. I’m more comfortable in the infield, but I had to just do the best I could.”
Despite her relative youth, it’s incumbent on Martinez to be a leader on the team.
“Pokey (Aguilar) always tells me to be a leader, and so does coach,” she said. “I don’t try to be bossy, but I do try to be a leader.”
Ramos and sophomore Jesenia Velez will do much of the pitching, Thomas said, while catching duties will eventually be split between Medina and sophomore Ivanna Gonzalez. Thomas said Gonzalez has been nursing shoulder problems and listed her as “questionable” for this weekend.
Around the infield are sophomore Anissa Carroll at first base, junior Taylor Marez at second, Martinez at short and Aguilar at third. Sophomore Daniella Cortez could see some duty at either first or third or in the designated player role, Thomas said.
Nelson patrols center field while several others are competing in right or left — junior Amanda Wagner, senior Brianna Kyral and freshmen Andrea Aguilar (Felicia’s sister) and Kyleigh Guthals.
Thomas said this is the fastest CHS team she’s coached. “They cover a lot of ground,” she said.
“We’ll take it game by game,” she said. “Our short-term goals are always day-to-day. Our medium goal is to at least split (four games) with (perennial district champion) Carlsbad. Our overall goal is to get to state.”