For Goddard baseball, the real season starts on Friday. It’s been 365 days since the team has had a chance to fight to make it back to the championship game for the sixth year in a row. Rockets coach Gilbert Alvarado knows full well what the expectations are. It was here when he was a player and it’s here now that he’s the coach.
For the first 17 games this season, the Rockets know that nothing is going to come easy for them and every team is going to give them their best shot. Coach Alvarado has stressed to his team they need to focus on doing the little things and breaking the game down into winning innings and concentrating with each at-bat.
To make it to the playoffs, it begins when Goddard travels to Lovington, a team they have owned the last few years. The Rockets are ranked the No. 2 team in 4A behind St. Pius X, and Artesia is ranked as the No. 3 team.
“I think with district play,” Alvarado said, “we like to look at it like as a brand new season for the boys. We know that we have two road series out of the three series this season. We just know that when we travel it is a little bit tougher because we have to travel and get our mind right to go someplace else.”
With nine games left, Artesia and Goddard will meet in the last week of the season when they travel to Artesia in the season series finale on May 4. These games could end up being for the regular season district championship. Artesia is a senior-laden team with 11 seniors that play.
“Looking at Lovington, they are much improved,” Alvarado said. “We have to go down to Artesia and play a really, really solid ball club. We’ve watched them play multiple times now and they are the real deal. They (Artesia) have a solid schedule and have played some really good teams. They have some good players and they’re starting to heat up their best two pitchers in JR Bustamante and Trent Taylor.”
Goddard (12-5) is a different team than last season. For Goddard, it all starts with power pitcher Drew Price. Price has added a devastating changeup to a fastball, curveball and split-finger fastball. The Rockets will look for Ty Villareal to shut teams down when he is on the hill. Villareal is finally healthy after recovering from an injury.
Eli Fairbanks will be used as a pitcher with Owen Alsup and Tanner Conrad able to throw long relief and Spencer Robbins able to pitch.
Goddard has moved speedster Noah Nunez to catcher. Alvarado likes his take-charge attitude and how he handles the pitchers. He also likes his defense.
Goddard is healthy and should be well-rested since they have only played one game a week for the last two weeks — with their last game coming against cross-town rival Roswell on April 9, with a 5-1 win at home as Price threw a complete game.
“We only have nine games left, “Alvarado said, “and they all matter.”
Goddard travels to Lovington and plays at 5 p.m. Friday.
The good news for Roswell baseball is they are one win away from the most successful season they have had in a decade. Whether first-year coach Tyrell Curtis is doing it with smoke and mirrors or the team is for real, Coyote fans will find out in the next eight games, because it is game time.
Roswell opened their district play on Tuesday with an 11-1 loss on the road to Hobbs. The Coyotes will have a chance to get even if they can knock off Hobbs today. No matter how the season unfolds, Roswell is going to be a team to be reckoned with for the foreseeable future because of a lot of sophomores.
“We didn’t play our best baseball yesterday,” Curtis said. “We’re going to find out who we are and what we are going to do in the next eight games.”
The one thing the Coyotes are missing is another powerful arm to throw out there in a district series.
Roswell (12-6) is missing another veteran arm to eat up innings or shut down opponents. Another thing they are missing is just experience from games.
If the season ended today Roswell is in the playoffs, sitting there ranked at No. 11 according to MaxPreps.
“That’s our goal,” Curtis said, “to get one more win and have the best season they have had in over a decade. The kids want it. Winning one more guarantees us not to have a losing season. We’re looking at it like we need to win four out of eight to secure a playoff berth.”
Roswell is at home for a doubleheader against Hobbs starting at 5 p.m., according to coach Curtis.
Roswell was close in the two losses that could come back and haunt them when it comes to making the selection, if they don’t finish first or second in the district. The Lady Coyotes went on the road and lost a doubleheader to Hobbs: 1-0 in the first game and 8-7 in the second game.
“Starting the district out 0-2 is a little frustrating,” Roswell coach Art Sandoval said. “Going into the game we wanted to go in with a positive note. I think we should have won the second ball game for sure.”
The path to the playoffs doesn’t get any easier, as they hit the road and take on the No. 2 ranked team in 5A. Roswell is ranked No. 9, so an upset would not surprise anyone associated with the Lady Coyotes’ program. Look for Sandoval to make some adjustments to his lineup and try to get something going.
“The core of our team is young,” Sandoval said. “We’re fairly young and I thought we had a chance to be successful. I think we have to win seven out of nine in the next set of games. We have to focus on the little things. We do that by taking it one pitch at a time. It’s been an interesting year.”
Roswell (10-5) plays at Carlsbad at 5 p.m. for a doubleheader.
Goddard opened up district play on the road as they took on Lovington. The Wildcats are ranked No. 6 in the state. Goddard played them well and hard before losing, 11-10 and 7-0.
“We played our best softball of the season,” Goddard coach Katie Shanor said. “I feel like our girls are ready to explode and I look for us to play well down the stretch.”
Shanor is proud of the strides her team has made during the season and from last year. She knows that it is just going to take a little longer to get the program where she wants it to be.
Goddard has a home game at 4:30 p.m. on Friday against the No. 1 ranked team in the state in Artesia.