By Kevin Wilson
The Dora Coyotes have been to the state baseball tournament. The Floyd Broncos want to get there as well, and do a little bit more.
Coming off of a 4-12 record, the Broncos are setting their sights higher than a .500 season or even a district championship.
“I know it’s a goal people will laugh at,” Floyd coach Mark Poynor, “but our goal is to win the Class 1A-2A championship. That’s our goal and that’s what we’re working for.”
They’re working for it through spring break, as well. After a 14-3 loss to the Clovis junior varsity on Friday, Poynor offered his players Monday off because he felt they had played well.
The Bronco players disagreed with Poynor, and he couldn’t be happier about it.
“They did not want a day off,” Poynor said. “They wanted to continue to practice. I gave them the option, they didn’t want it.
“It made me feel so great about those kids that they wanted to give up their spring break to be a better team.”
The Broncos travel to San Jon today for a 4 p.m. doubleheader and travel to Logan Friday for another twin bill.
On the other side of Roosevelt County, the Dora Coyotes are taking a few days off after a 1-2 showing at a weekend tournament in Eunice.
That doesn’t mean Dora is taking spring break lying down, as the team starts play again Thursday at a tournament held by Class 3A school New Mexico Military Institute. The Coyotes play the host Colts in a 7 p.m. affair.
“I hope we can get in and hang with them and just play,” Dora coach Ty Thatcher said. “We’re playing tough competition for a single-A school, but as long as we’re learning to do things the correct way, we’ll be good.”
It’s a strategy that has paid off for Dora in recent history. A senior-laden Coyote squad was the only Class 1A school in the 1A-2A tournament field, and finished fourth.
Even though this year’s squad struggled in the early stretch, Thatcher knows that the Coyotes have historically fared better in the later part of the season.
“It’s going to takes us a while to get stuff going offensively,” Thatcher said. “We never have a full lineup in practice or in games when the (Future Farmers of America) judging season is going on.”
This year’s Coyote squad is young — the only senior on the roster is pitcher Jason Parker, who did not play last season. The pitching staff is anchored by sophomore southpaw Brent Hays and freshman Phillip Danbom.
“If we can produce offense, we can beat good teams with the pitching we’ve got,” Thatcher said. “(Brent’s) got pretty good stuff. For a sophomore, he knows more than some of the juniors and seniors I’ve had in the past.”
Meanwhile, Danbom picked up the Coyotes’ only win of the season thus far, 10-6 over Jal.
“Last year, obviously (2003 senior Chris) Rolston was our ace. Brent and Phillip are really strong up there. (Parker) can throw the ball in the zone and has good stuff. We’re just going to have to get him into the groove of things.”
While pitching is the main strength for the Coyotes, hitting is the biggest plus for the Broncos. Poynor said he has been surprised by players like Ever Varela and Justin Sherburne on offense, and said catcher Brad Lee hit his first varsity home run against Clovis.
Still, Poynor knows that pitching will determine the Broncos’ fate, and he stresses that the team will likely need at least five innings out of Chance Chenault and Wade Mobley, because sophomore left-hander Kyle Kropf will likely have to do relief duty in each doubleheader game.
Still, Poynor admits that stranger things have happened than the Broncos competing for a playoff spot against Dora and Class 2A schools Santa Rosa and Texico. Floyd knows they’ll have to pull a few upsets over those schools to earn one of the district’s two playoff spots.
“Baseball’s a strange game,” Poynor said. “The best team does not always win and the team that is best prepared that day is going to be the team that gets first or second in district.”