Clovis North counting on offense to get them over the hump in 2020
With an arsenal of arms, including University of Arizona commit Riley Cooper, the Broncos will be tough to score upon. But can the offense keep up with the stellar pitching?
Head Coach: Jeff Prieto
Record at School: 44-17 (third year)
Sr. Riley Cooper, LHP/1B
- 72.1 IP, 1.16 ERA, 9-1 record, 95-13 K-BB.
Jr. Caden Larsen, LHP
- 25.2 IP, 1.63 ERA, 23Ks.
Sr. Ryan O’Hara, RHP/OF
- 32.0 IP, 1.75 ERA, 4-0 record, 39Ks.
Sr. Nolan Inouye, OF/RHP
- .381 batting average, 26 RBI, 7 doubles, 2 HR.
Sr. Cason Brownell, 2B
- .314 batting average, 7 RBI.
Bacci Bryant, SS
- .282 batting average, 7 RBI, 3 doubles.
Brady Crow, RHP/3B
- .325 batting average; 36.1 IP, 36 Ks.
Chris Ortega, DH/3B
- .326 batting average, 16 RBI, 6 doubles, 2 HR.
Conner Martin, OF
- .282 batting average, 9 RBI, 6 doubles.
Tanner McKenzie, 1B
- .323 batting average, 19 RBI, 3 HRs.
Newcomers to watch:
Sr. Luke Sula, 3B/RHP (Transfer from Buchanan)
Jr. Rees Kent, 3B
Jr. Blake King, 1B
Soph. Isaiah Munoz, SS (Saint Mary’s commit)
Soph. Hunter Jansen OF/LHP
Soph. Derrick Cruz, C
Soph. Cole Fellows, 1B
For the Broncos, pitching never seems to be the issue. The chalk holds in 2020 as Clovis North returns a core of pitchers who will make this staff among the best in the section. Add to that a slew of athletic defenders and it will be up to the Clovis North offense to produce and give them a chance to win.
Each of the last two seasons, the Broncos have lost to the eventual section champion in the playoffs—Stockdale in the semfinals (2018) and Clovis in the quarterfinals (2019). However, there’s a feeling around the program that this year will be different and that the window to win a title is open.
Offense: Clovis North ended 2019 hitting .274 as a team, a number that must rise this season. Nolan Inouye returns to anchor the top of the order. He can turn any fastball around and uses all fields while at the plate. Cason Brownell put together a nice season as a junior and his speed makes him a factor in any situation. Riley Cooper gained experience as a hitter, too. After that, there are many unknowns. Senior Blake Asadoor received 39 varsity at-bats a year ago and will be counted on to produce more in 2020. Juniors Rees Kent and Blake King have limited varsity experience, but figure to play themselves into regular playing time. Each have power potential and Kent can use his legs as well. In addition, sophomores such as Isaiah Munoz, Cole Fellows, and Hunter Jansen will be counted on. Munoz is committed to Saint Mary’s, but will sit out to start the year due to transferring from Memorial. Though he’s young, freshman middle infielder Jayden Mandal has a chance to see action. Mandal is highly regarded as one of the best athletes in his class and is a future star for the Broncos.
Defense: Clovis North will have many new faces around the infield in 2020, but returning second baseman Cason Brownell is one of the best infielders in the area. He has great hands and range and has shown that he can come up big in key spots. After that, there’s competition everywhere. Sophomore middle infielder Isaiah Munoz will compete for the shortstop position with senior Freddy Flores. Flores will get the first chance to win the job (see above). Junior Rees Kent will challenge for playing time at third base and coaches love his potential there. Kent received limited varsity playing time last year, but is a guy that can play at the next level. Buchanan transfer Luke Sula will also compete for innings at third base when he doesn’t pitch. Riley Cooper, Blake King, or Cole Fellows will lock down the first base spot. The Broncos have experience in the outfield. First team All-TRAC Nolan Inouye returns in left field and has been experienced big game after big game. Returner Blake Asadoor proved to be great on defense a year ago and turned that into a commitment to McPherson College. Ryan O’Hara and Ryan Vance both have blazing speed and will be counted on at different points this year. Sophomore Hunter Jansen has a big arm that could help get him innings in the OF as well. Senior Chase Pinheiro (Fresno Pacific signee) is moving from the outfield to catcher to battle with sophomore Derrick Cruz. Coaches have praised Pinheiro’s leadership and ability to make his voice heard on the diamond.
Pitching: Riley Cooper has experience to go along with a competitive streak on the mound. The Arizona signee is entering his third year as the ace for Clovis North in what should be a dominant season for the lefty. Senior right-hander Ryan O’Hara came on nicely last year and has continued his development. O’Hara boasts an upper-80s fastball with a breaking ball that he can throw for strikes. Don’t be shocked if he takes one of the starting spots by the time TRAC play rolls around. Caden Larsen saw innings as a sophomore and came up big in some key spots last year. Buchanan transfer Luke Sula will challenge for innings as well. Nolan Inouye and Hunter Jansen could see time on the bump in certain situations.
Bottom line: Pitching never seems to be an issue at Clovis North. Expect the Broncos, again, to be among the best in the section in this department. Manufacturing runs will be the key. Against the TRAC’s best competition last year (Buchanan, Clovis, and Clovis West), the Broncos averaged just three runs per game. The athleticism on this roster points towards that number rising. With a pitching staff and defense like this, the Broncos should be penciled in to make a deep run in May.
Key non-league games:
2/13 at Hanford
- On this surface, this might not seem like much. Dig into it more and realize it’s a road game potentially facing Texas Tech signee Juaron Watts-Brown makes this a must-watch.
2/28 at Memorial
- Another tough road game. These teams have played each other tough the last two seasons. This will be another good one.
2/22 at Bullard
- It’s always a big one when a Clovis school plays Bullard. Another roady for Broncos.
3/6 vs. Frontier
- Though Frontier isn’t as good as a season ago, LHP Kris Anglin will provide a good test.