After making big strides during the offseason, the New Mexico Military Institute Broncos baseball team feels confident about their chances to improve off last year’s 25-31 record.
One big thing the Broncos will lean on this season is their pitching, which is spearheaded by sophomores Tyler Hardwick and Jose Cabanillas.
Cabanillas went 5-3 in six starts with a 4.98 ERA and 40 strikeouts his freshman year.
Hardwick, who is expected to be the ace of the staff, compiled a 6-6 record last season that included a team-best 3.20 ERA with 64 strikeouts.
“We’ll do pretty well. Everyone specializes in a different way,” Hardwick said. “Everyone brings a key piece into what will make us good.”
The Broncos begin their season hosting a doubleheader Saturday against Otero Junior College at noon and 2 p.m. The series concludes with another twin bill Sunday beginning at noon.
“The theme going into this year … I feel like we’re as strong as we’ve ever been on the mound,” NMMI head coach Chris Cook said. “We’ve got a handful of guys that can throw it.
“If we’ve done our job as coaches, I feel like we’ve got a chance to be competitive every weekend because of our pitching,” Cook said.
The offense is a big question mark at the beginning of this year, but plenty of progress has been made.
One of the biggest challenges is finding the right lineup for each game because there are plenty of players on this year’s roster that can step up during any situation and deliver.
Hobbs native and sophomore infielder Jaden Hutchins put together a team-high .358 clip with 38 hits and 20 RBIs last year. The coaching staff is hoping his numbers translate into this season.
Sophomore first baseman Julian Galindo had a knack for delivering the clutch hit last season, and he’ll be looked upon to be one of the leaders on offense.
Galindo hit seven homers and drove in a team-best 41 runs last season while batting .323 with 41 hits.
“I just hope all our young hitters learn the game and have a feel for the game,” Galindo said. “From what I saw over fall, everybody’s starting to learn.
“Overall, I feel like we’re going to be good. We’re way different than last year. We’re working on putting all the pieces together.”
Keeping it local
This year’s roster includes five Roswell natives.
Hardwick, freshman pitcher Ty Villareal and sophomore transfer Cameron Stevenson all played at Goddard.
Stevenson was at the University of New Mexico last season. He and Hardwick helped lead the Rockets to a state championship in 2017.
Freshmen Jaydon Stephens, of Gateway Christian, and former Roswell High pitcher Langston “Drew” Graham round out the local players.
“It was a goal of mine when I took this job over eight years ago … to try to get more regional kids,” Cook said. “It’s just more exciting, more fun. It’s easier for the kids to get to know what the program’s about when they can be around it on a daily basis.”
NMMI’s nonconference schedule doesn’t shy away from playing the best programs in the region as it meets North Central Texas College, Colby Community College, Cisco College and Ranger College.
“This is my eighth spring and this is by far the most challenging schedule we’ve had,” Cook said. “I did purposefully want to get a tougher nonconference schedule.
“This could be great playing these more competitive teams and worst-case scenario it could be bad. You’re trying to figure out who can fill this role, but at the same time, you’re trying to win. We hope to have all our answers by the time we get to March when we’re playing the first conference series.”
Galindo’s make mark
Throughout the past couple of years, the Galindo name has become synonymous within the NMMI program.
Four different Galindos, who all hail from El Paso, Texas, have played for the Broncos. Only two are actually related.
Julian Galindo’s brother Bobby played for the Broncos before landing at the University of the Southwest in Hobbs.
Then there’s Joe Galindo who was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 13th round in 2016 after competing at NMMI and New Mexico State University.
Current Broncos assistant coach Tony Galindo, who played two seasons for the Broncos from 2016-18, adds to the list.