Ram baseball veteran takes helm of young squad

Eric Norwood Jr.

CMI staff writer

enorwood@pntonline.com

First-year head coach Dusty Nusser is cherishing his opportunity to lead the Portales Ram baseball program after paying his dues since middle school.

Eric Norwood Jr.:  Clovis Media Inc. Portales High School sophomore Kersey Burnett works on his bunting skills on Thursday at the PHS baseball practice. First-year head coach Dusty Nusser is taking over Ram baseball from principal Arturo Ontiveros, who led PHS to a 3A state title in 2012.

Eric Norwood Jr.: Clovis Media Inc.
Portales High School sophomore Kersey Burnett works on his bunting skills on Thursday at the PHS baseball practice. First-year head coach Dusty Nusser is taking over Ram baseball from principal Arturo Ontiveros, who led PHS to a 3A state title in 2012.

“I’ve been a part of the Portales baseball program since 1997, when I was in eighth grade, with the exception of 2007, when I worked in Bloomfield,” said Nusser.

Coincidentally, Bloomfield was the team responsible for knocking the Rams out of the first round of last season’s playoffs. The Rams (16-11) won the first game of the three-game set at home, but dropped the next two.

The Rams open their season at home 6 p.m. Tuesday against Santa Fe Indian.

Nusser’s many years of experience playing and coaching with the Rams might prove necessary, as PHS only has three seniors on this year’s squad. Jarret Faust and Daniel Sanchez, who just completed their basketball season, are back as well as Cruz Belden, who will be balancing track and baseball this spring.

“I would say we’re pretty young. We will have a large amount of juniors and sophomores that will contribute on the varsity level,” said Nusser.

Nusser, a 2001 PHS grad, expects a few of his juniors to have good seasons, namely centerfielder Darrin Bonem, rightfielder Omar Legarda and catcher Matt Martinez, who started as a freshman on the 2012 state championship squad.

Grant Wagner, Draven Saiz, and Kersey Burnett are a trio of sophomores that will see time on varsity this season both on the mound and in the field.

Nusser said all three of his seniors will see time on the mound, along with juniors Rey Ornelas and Travis Connell.

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