The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Clovis baseball team finds itself in rare territory

 

April 19, 2018



Clovis High School’s baseball team may soon reach standards it’s seldom approached in its 78-year history.

By all accounts, the 19-3 Wildcats need just five more victories to break the school record of 23 set in 2004.

That 2004 team’s season ended in the state tournament championship game, the only time in New Mexico Activities Association history Clovis has played for a baseball title.

This year’s team is ranked second in the state, possibly on a collision course with top-ranked La Cueva, which has won the state title nine times in the past 15 seasons.

Some trivia regarding Clovis High’s baseball past:

• The first Clovis High team that competed under NMAA’s umbrella was a rag-tag bunch thrown together in the spring of 1940.

The Clovis High School annual reported “most of them had never played baseball before,” but they had a “very successful season, winning a majority of their games ... and then winning third place at the state tournament in baseball.”

The Clovis News-Journal made no mention of regular-season baseball, but said about 10 teams were invited to a hastily organized state tournament. Eleven of Clovis’ 12 players had “never been on a similar athletic trip,” the newspaper reported.

• When Shane Shallenberger coached Clovis High’s baseball team to the playoffs in 2001, he was told it was the first time in “40 years” the team had qualified for postseason.

Shallenberger’s 2004 Clovis team finished second in district before peaking for a playoff run that ended with an 11-0 loss to La Cueva. The Bears were ranked No. 1 in the nation at the time and finished the season with a 58-game win streak that began in 2002.

• Despite a history of mediocre (and worse) high school baseball teams, Clovis has produced one Major League player.

John Harris, who came to Clovis with his military family in 1971 and graduated in 1973, played three seasons for the California Angels.

A three-time all-district player in high school, he played 56 big league games from 1979 through 1981. He hit .258 with five home runs and 16 runs batted in for the Angels, pinch-hitting and playing first base and left field.

Harris made his big-league debut as a pinch runner for Hall of Famer Rod Carew.

While he was twice named Clovis High’s most valuable baseball player — the team captain was a slugger and its best pitcher — Harris’ high school success did not lead to team success.

The Wildcats finished 11-14 when Harris was a junior in 1972.

In his high school baseball finale in 1973, Harris led Clovis to a doubleheader sweep of Hobbs. In the first game, the left-hander was called on to pitch the last inning with no outs, two runners on and Clovis clinging to a 7-6 lead. He retired three straight hitters to end the game, and threw a complete-game one-hitter in the nightcap, striking out nine, as Clovis won 3-2 — to finish its season 11-17.

• The Wildcats host Sandia in a doubleheader on Friday, then wrap up their regular season next weekend at La Cueva.

Then we find out if they can make history that’s a little more fun to remember.

David Stevens is editor for Clovis Media Inc. Contact him at: dstevens@thenews.email

 

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