Home Sports Local Sports Goddard confident despite tough start to season

Goddard confident despite tough start to season

Goddard’s Caleb Seely (22) throws a pitch against Roswell on May 15. (Daily Record File Photo)

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It is not the way Goddard coach Gilbert Alvarado and his teams are used to starting the season, going 2-4. But things could be worse, The Rockets have seen some good pitching and they are playing District 4-5A teams early. It is early in the season and they face another 5A team in Clovis today.

What Alvarado would like to see, more than a win, is his team knocking the cover off of the baseball. Goddard has had pitching, defense and togetherness. The team has not been able to get the bats going.

Against Roswell, Goddard ran into a string of arms. Goddard played against the No. 2 team in the state, Carlsbad. The Cavemen have possibly the best pitching prospect in the state of New Mexico in Nolan Perry. Perry, at 6-foot-1, can bring the heat. The Miami Marlins were there to watch him pitch. Chances are that in district 4-4A, Goddard won’t see the stuff they have been seeing.

Alvarado said that going into the Carlsbad game, they were hoping to win the game. The Cavemen are ranked the No. 2 team in the state. For the team, it was a chance for them to see what they needed to work on before district play begins.

“The whole point of playing these better schools,” Alvarado said, “is to see what we need to improve on. Does our record look good, no, but for us, it is all about winning district. We want to be the best we can going into the district.”

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Alvarado said they put the team in a tough spot and asked them not to quit on the team or him. Players like senior Gabe Campos who made a tough play in the hole. Campos made a diving stop and threw the ball to second base to get the runner out. Goddard was losing 8-0 at the time.

“I told our seniors, Owen Alsup and Campos,” Alvarado said, “they are going to determine this year’s team and the future. If they sulk and quit, that is what they will be passing on to the underclassmen. If they fight and play hard, that is what they will pass on to their team.”

One of the reasons for the tough start is, COVID-19 didn’t allow teams to play together. Goddard lost time as a team getting to know each other. The Rockets are young, playing four freshmen and with two seniors. The team has made only four errors all season, one of the positive things Alvarado hangs his hat on.

“I think our bats will get going once we get back to the district,” Alvarado said. “We have been seeing some fast pitching and some off-speed stuff and it has made it difficult. We are young, and I don’t think any we will face will throw as hard to what we have seen before.”

Alvarado said that he believes the tough schedule will pay off. Alvarado said that Dustin Hardwick is starting to emerge as the team’s No. 1 pitcher. Hardwick has a fastball, changeup, and a curveball, slider. What is giving hitters problems: Hardwick is lanky and has a funky arm angle. Alvarado said Hardwick’s pitches tail in on some batters and tail out on other hitters.

“Our senior leadership has been great,” Alvarado said. “They (Alsup and Campos) have not let anyone quit in the dugout or field. They have led by example. Their defense has been spectacular.”

Alvarado is starting Cinco Holloway at catcher every game this season. Holloway has blocked the ball well and his bat has some pop in it. Ryan Alsup is playing second base and shares time with Luke Fulkerson. Freshman Jonathan Silva has been starting in the outfield. He is able cover a lot of ground with balls hit in the gaps. Michael Mathison is playing third base when Owen Alsup pitches. He is a utility player and is able to be on the mound in relief when called upon.

Alvarado is proud of the job sophomore pitcher Colby Eldridge has done for the team on the bump. He pitched Carlsbad to one run in four innings. Junior Caleb Seely came in for two innings in relief and pitched well.

“We lose two seniors after this year,” Alvarado said. “They are really good seniors, but the younger ones coming up are getting a lot of game experience. The junior varsity kids we have are playing hard and well. It is going to pay off.”

Alvarado said the team is going to learn by the playing experience. What has impressed Alvarado about this team is how solid they are on defense. He said the team does not give up cheap hits when the ball is hit to the outfield with Zeke Esquivel chasing everything down.

“We are really hoping a win against Clovis can start some momentum,” Alvarado said. “We want to be playing our way up going into the district. If we can keep making contact like we did in the second game against Carlsbad, we will be fine. If we can start hitting the ball on the barrel of the bat, the hits will start to fall, and everything will take care of itself.”

Goddard travels to Clovis today for a doubleheader starting at 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or sports@rdrnews.com.

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