Parker Wood has had a pretty good baseball career at Clovis High, but there’s one thing that’s been missing.
A deep postseason run, something he thinks the Wildcats can accomplish this season.
“We’ve got practically the same team, but we have a lot more hop in our step,” said Wood, who hit six homers last season and tied school records for doubles (14) and RBIs (46). “I’ve never had a winning record, and I’m sick of losing.”
The Cats open the 2009 season on Thursday in the Clovis Invitational at Bell Park.
They’ll do it under a new coach in Greg Hill, who had two stints as the head coach at Portales High and helped the Rams reach three Class 3A state finals.
Hill also thinks the Cats have a chance for a good year.
“We’ve got a lot of kids that are potentially really, really good,” he said. “We’ve just got to learn to deal with failure. How well we handle adversity will tell a lot about our season.”
Wood, who bats and throws left-handed, has been the Cats’ regular first baseman for several years. He’s also seen duty on the mound as a reliever, but could get some starts this spring.
“Coach King (assistant Tim) has helped me out with my mechanics a lot,” Wood said. “I usually try to go out and throw as hard as I can.”
Joining him in a relatively experienced infield are juniors Jake Burrell at third and Emery Sierra at short, and senior Omar Sosa at second base. Senior Derrick Bennett moves up from the junior varsity to handle catching duties.
In the outfield are likely to be seniors Jordan Jacobs in right field and Sebastian Flores in center, and sophomore Jordan Hill — the coach’s son — in left. The younger Hill was a starter in the outfield last spring as Portales reached the 3A finals, where it lost to Cobre.
Senior left-hander Brandon Gilliard is expected to anchor the pitching staff, but could be out a while with an ankle injury. Behind him, Burrell, Wood, Sierra and senior Lane Drake are vying for spots.
“We’ve got a lot of team speed, we’ve got good power and solid pitching,” said Wood, taking over for Shane Shallenberger, who left after seven seasons to begin a program at the new Cleveland High School in Rio Rancho. “Potentially, we could be really, really good.”
Wood said he can tell a difference in the Cats’ approach.
“I’m really excited for the season,” he said. “Practices are upbeat. I think we’re putting a lot more into it. It’s my senior year, so I want to go out with a bang.”
The Cats know anything in the district goes through Carlsbad, which has won 16 consecutive district championships.
“Historically, Carlsbad has dominated the district,” Hill said. “I think we have a lot to prove as a program. Even though Carlsbad has been the dominant team, I think we’re up to the task.”