Clovis’ road to defending a section title is familiar territory
The defending Central Section champs return a solid group of players including UNLV signee Noah Beal as Chris Patrick takes over head coaching duties.
Head Coach: Chris Patrick
Record at School: 0-0 (first year)
Career Record: 187-94-3
Sr. Noah Beal, RHP/1B
- .356 batting average, 6 doubles, 19 RBI, 3 HR; 57.2 IP, 2.79 ERA, 7-2 record.
Sr. Koby Kropf, C
- .312 batting average, 9 doubles, 23 RBI, 2 HR.
Sr. Miles Henderson, SS/RHP
- .356 batting average, 4 doubles, 15 RBI; 19.1 IP, 1.49 ERA, 7 saves.
Sr. Ian Mortensen, OF/RHP
- .312 batting average, 21 RBI; 22 IP, 1.59 ERA.
Jr. Brayden Nicholson, 3B
- .300 batting average, 7 RBI
Darrien Miller, C
- Drafted by the Milwaukee Brewers in 9th round of MLB Draft
Zach Jimenez, RHP
- Most innings pitched last year and started in last year’s Valley Championship game.
Josiah Penberthy, RHP
- 34.1 IP with a 3.26 ERA in 2019.
Newcomers to watch:
Jr. Andrew Dowie, OF
Jr. Seth Madruga, OF/LHP
Soph. Caden Gonzalez, OF
Clovis enters the 2020 season with a new, but certainly not unfamiliar, face leading the charge in Chris Patrick who takes over for his father, James, the winningest baseball coach in Central Section history.
Patrick inherits a roster with a slew of veterans returning off of a team that won a section championship a season ago as a No. 6 seed —a team that Patrick was a part of as an assistant coach.
Though defending a section championship isn’t easy, the Cougars have a history doing so–1997-1998 and 2001-2002-2003. The foundation is in place to make another run at a title led by a senior-heavy lineup.
Offense: Clovis ended last season hitting .305 as a team and four of their top five hitters return. Seniors Noah Beal and Koby Kropf were named the best 1-2 punch in the Clovis Sports Report D1 Preview. Playing at a home stadium with dimensions like Lloyd Merriman Field will certainly cause power numbers to look deflated. In addition, seniors Miles Henderson and Ian Mortensen will help set the table for the Cougars near the top of the lineup. Additional seniors such as Jalen White and Ryan Tiger gained valuable experience in spot-starts a season ago. White can make plays with his legs while Tiger will be expected to give the Cougars a quality at-bat each time at the plate. Junior Brayden Nicholson returns on the infield. Nicholson ended last year as Clovis’ only underclassman who received significant playing time.
Defense: Clovis had many moving parts throughout the season last year and with so many guys returning, there’s experience at almost every position—almost. It will be no small feat replacing catcher Darrien Miller who signed with the Milwaukee Brewers after being drafted in the 9th round of the MLB Draft. Kropf will be called upon for this task after platooning as an OF/DH a season ago. Despite not catching many innings in 2019, Kropf grew up as a catcher and is confident that he can be the battery. Miles Henderson has shown the ability to play to third base, short stop, and second base but look for him to get the first shot at SS. Jalen White found a home at 2B towards the end of last year, and Brayden Nicholson was used as a third baseman in his starts. There are a slew of guys competing for outfield spots led by three seniors: Ian Mortensen, Ryan Tiger, and Nolan Sumter. Sumter is currently playing soccer and will get a late start on the diamond. In addition, Andrew Dowie, Seth Madruga, and Caden Gonzalez will challenge for playing time. With Mortensen likely spending lots of time on the mound this year, developing depth here will be big.
Pitching: UNLV signee Noah Beal headlines the returners on the mound and will be the ace for the Cougars this season. After a slow start to 2019, Beal locked it in by the time TRAC play got started and finished with a 2.79 ERA—a number which is sure to be lower as a senior. Beal also threw an 8-inning no-hitter versus Clovis West the last week of the regular season. In addition to Beal, Clovis returns valuable innings in Mortensen and Henderson. Mortensen will get a shot to win the #2 pitching job while Henderson found a niche late in the year as a valuable late-inning guy for the Cougs. Lefty Seth Madruga could prove tough against opposing left-handed bats.
Bottom line: A senior-heavy team usually translates to wins throughout a regular season. Defending a section championship is never easy, but there are enough pieces in place for Clovis to make another run. Creating quality depth is the biggest challenge the Cougars face on the road to repeating.
Key non-league games:
2/11 home vs. Bullard
- First game of the season could prove when it comes to playoff seeding.
2/22 home vs. Memorial
- Matchup of two preseason top five teams.
2/28 home vs. Liberty-Bakersfield
- Might be the best team in Bakersfield. It’s not often the Pats travel north in the regular season.
2/29 home vs. Elk Grove
- Playoff seeding wise, the result doesn’t matter. However, after a down year, Thundering Herd hope to get back among state’s best.
3/6 home vs. Righetti
- Righetti was a game away from a Valley Championship appearance a year ago. Warriors return 3 of 4 top hitters and ace on the mound.
3/10 at Bullard
- Rematch from early season showdown. One team will look for a season sweep.