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Goddard wins district crown again

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Goddard seniors hold plaques on Senior Night, Friday at Goddard. (Steve Notz Photo)

Copyright © 2021 Roswell Daily Record

New Goddard baseball coach, same old results with a different twist. No one thought getting through the regular season would be tough, but district play saw the Rockets lose twice to Artesia. Once at their place and once at the Launch Pad.

What did first-year coach Gilbert Alvarado do? Nothing, except keep his cool and remind the players to break the game down to the smallest parts. Win inning by inning, pitch-by-pitch, and bat-by-bat. In the end, the grind of the regular season came to a quick conclusion when the Rockets crushed the Lovington Wildcats Friday night, 22-0 and 10-0 to end the season and claim the regular season District 4-5A crown on Senior Night.

After the game, the crowd stayed on hand to take pictures and cherish the memories of the season. One of the seniors that said goodbye to Goddard baseball was Tyler Hardwick. Hardwick spent five years in the baseball program. This year, he has a 7-1 record with a 1.00 ERA. When he is not pitching, he starts in the outfield.

“It feels good to come out here and do what I need,” Hardwick said. “I trust the players behind me to make plays. I do what I have to do to win games. My goal for the rest of the season is to win innings. Coach Alvarado has helped me with my batting. I like him a lot.”

The righty tops out at 87-88 mph on his fastball and can throw a curveball, but his go-to pitch is a changeup. He plans to go to NMMI and continue his baseball career. After NMMI, he hopes to play baseball at another school. He has a goal of trying to play in the major leagues one day, if things work out right for him. Once his baseball career is over with, Hardwick hopes to do something in criminal justice.

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Jose Ponce played in the baseball program two years as a pitcher. He was a member of the blue trophy team last season.

“It was a fun feeling to win the title last season,” Ponce said.

Logan Mathison has played five years in the baseball program as a catcher and pitcher. According to coach Alvarado, he has played every inning this season either behind the plate or on the mound as a pitcher. He leaves with a .985 fielding percentage and has only allowed 10 passed balls in 20 games. He has started on the varsity team since he was a junior.

“It has been a fun long ride here,” Mathison said. “I’ve loved playing for Goddard baseball since I came here in eighth-grade. I can’t wait to move forward in life. I don’t know if that entails baseball yet. I love catching — it has been my passion since I was six years old and to be able to come out here and catch every inning I can, its been a dream come true.”

Matt Shanor has played baseball for five years. He has been mister versatility playing second base, third base, shortstop, all of the outfield positions and has pitched this year. He is batting .348 this year with a .476 on-base percentage. After this season, he will play at Wittenberg University.

“I have loved playing here,” Shanor said. “I like the fact that we have a chance to win another trophy. This has been a great senior season for me.”

Cameron Stevenson also has played five years for the Rockets. He has pitched and played shortstop and third base. This season, he is batting .551 and leads the team with 33 runs scored. Next season, he will play baseball at the University of New Mexico.

“My senior year has been a blast,” Stevenson said. “I’ve been blessed with some great teammates and we really get along great and play well together, which makes it even more fun. We had a new coach, which was kind of a twist at the beginning of the season, but we accepted him full force and got behind him. I think we fell in love with him honestly. I really like coach Alvarado. I like the way he runs baseball and their practices are structured so we know what we are going to do every day.”

Coach Alvarado has changed the team’s approach to focus on the little things — by winning innings, he figures his team will win the games. By maintaining the focus on innings, it allows the Rockets to maintain their focus on the task at hand, which is meant to help prevent prolonged slumps. This helps them to not look ahead.

“This is great,” Alvarado said. “It is a great feeling to know that these boys, they want to know when it is their time to step up and lead. They can keep the tradition going that we had in this program when we played here. I believe this is the sixth year we have won the district title. We want to keep this going as long as we can.”

Alvarado reminded his team about their daily grind and focus after losing the second game of the doubleheader to Artesia. He did this by restructuring practice with more focus on details and punishment on things that were lackadaisical and for mental errors.

Goddard’s season gets a little bit tougher. In the next week, they have to win two-out-of-three in the playoffs. After that, they are one and done. Now is the time they have to play their best baseball if they are to make a return to the championship game.

“With the upcoming games,” Alvarado said, “we have to make sure we are winning innings, we don’t have time to lose one or two innings, because the next thing you know we have lost a game and that’s it.”

Goddard finished the season, 20-4, and 10-2 in District 4-5A.

Pairings for the tournament will be released Sunday by the New Mexico Activities Association.

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