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Goddard coach Alvarado ready for season

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Goddard High School baseball coach Gilbert Coach Alvarado talks to his players during Thursday’s game. (Shawn Naranjo Photo)

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How do you follow a legend? Do you hire another one? Well, that’s what the administration at Goddard is hoping for with the hiring of Gilbert Alvarado. The Goddard Rockets are the defending champions of District 4-5A. Their season gets underway tonight when they host cross-town rival Roswell Coyotes at the Launch Pad.

Logan Mathison jumps on a ball that was dribbling away from the plate to make the throw to first and get the out. (Shawn Naranjo Photo)

Not only will the Rockets have to replace five seniors who have gone on to play their baseball at the next level, when they throw the first pitch tonight, they will have a new skipper in the dugout with former Goddard alum Gilbert Alvarado. Alvarado replaces former manager Alan Edmonson. Edmonson would leave to become coach for Carlsbad High School at the end of the season.

As for replacing Edmonson, a coach who led Goddard to four straight championship games, he feels no pressure. He wants the Rockets to continue to do what they have been doing the past four seasons.

When Edmonson was going to leave for Carlsbad, he called Alvarado and asked him if he would be interested in becoming the coach at Goddard, or at least apply for the job.

“I told him (Edmonson) yes. I’d love to keep it going with what you started there, “Alvarado said. “He really got Goddard baseball off and running. I wanted to come back and stay where it was at.”

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Alvarado played for Goddard from 1999-2001. He played left field and pitched. The great feelings he had as a player made him want to continue to see that other athletes had those same feelings as well. After high school, he played four years at Eastern New Mexico University, and after his playing career ended, he coached for two years at ENMU.

Alvarado comes to the Rockets from Ruidoso, where he compiled a 111-102-1 record in eight seasons as coach in District 4-3A.

“There is a difference between 5A and 3A baseball,” Alvarado said. “There are more quality players to choose from here. There’s more numbers to pull from and the boys have played on a lot of traveling teams; they’ve played together since they were 8 and 9 years old. They’ve been playing almost all year round, and it shows. Their fundamentals are solid and the way they go about their business has been great.”

Alvarado feels like he has received a tremendous help from the Booster Club, the parents have been supportive in helping him get his bearings in the program. One of the main differences between Ruidoso is the weather. This time of the year, his players and him would be shoveling snow off the field. His Rockets have been practicing since he has been here to get ready for the season.

Alvarado likes the way his new team has played in training camp and cannot wait until the season begins.

“The boys have done a really nice job of keeping their confidence up,” Alvarado said. “Their work ethic is up without putting too much pressure on themselves. When you’re following back-to-back to back-to-back and make it to the state championship games, all the effort and love that has to go into that is tremendous. To be honest with you, our focus is to be 210-0. That’s how many innings we have to play and that’s how narrow I want our focus to be, starting with winning the first inning against Roswell on Thursday.”

A player’s manager, Alvarado will use each player’s strength to help the team win. He may tell one player to lift the ball every chance they get. Another he may tell to put it on the ground and get the runner over to the next base. Alvarado likes to play baseball, whatever it takes to help his team win.

“We do have some pretty good arms this year,” Alvarado said. “Drew Price is throwing really well for us. Tyler Hardwick should be a starter for us; Eli Fairbanks should be to come in and get some relief for us. Catcher Logan Mathison can come out and get some innings for us. I really feel like we have a good number of arms, and Matt Shanor can come in and throw lots of strikes, which is tremendous.”

Alvarado feels like he has three guys who can start, and four guys who can come in for relief. He believes the Rockets’ pitching is solid, and his defense is solid as well. With the success of last year’s team, the pitchers didn’t hit for themselves last year. With the added batting practice, it will be a benefit to his pitchers. Alvarado wants to make sure that when his team is at bat, that they have a plan for hitting, and they are not just going up there swinging.

“Goddard baseball has been successful over the years,” Alvarado said. “We’ve had some really solid teams and players come out of here. We want these boys to know it shouldn’t come as a surprise to have good teams or good players. They need to know they come from good stock and a good program. Tradition can do a lot for you and so can pride. Pride can carry you a long way. We don’t want these boys to feel pressure, but we want them to know this is a quality program.”

Goddard opened their season with a mercy rule, an 13-0 win over Roswell on Thursday at the Southwest Baseball Classic.

The Rockets will play today as TBA.

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