Campers trying to learn baseball from ground up

By Dave Wagner
Sports writer
dwagner@cnjonline.com
Eastern New Mexico University baseball coaches conducted their third “prospects” camp of the year on Tuesday at Greyhound Field.

From Wednesday through Friday, they’re busy looking at a younger group of potential prospects.

About 25 players entering kindergarten through eighth grade, mainly from the immediate area, took part in Wednesday’s first day of a three-day youth camp.

Coach David Gomez, entering his second season at ENMU, said the Greyhounds have gotten commitments from about 10 players during their prospects camps, which is for players entering grades 9-12 and draws some interest from outside the state.

“It’s been fruitful, for sure,” he said.

ENMU assistant coach Brett Merritt is the program’s lead recruiter and put together the baseball camps.

Staff photo: Tony Bullocks Hagen Rains, 10, of Portales kills some time with some fancy ball tricks on Wednesday during the first day of Eastern New Mexico University’s three-day youth baseball camp at Greyhound Field. About 25 youngsters are taking part in the camp.

Staff photo: Tony Bullocks
Hagen Rains, 10, of Portales kills some time with some fancy ball tricks on Wednesday during the first day of Eastern New Mexico University’s three-day youth baseball camp at Greyhound Field. About 25 youngsters are taking part in the camp.


“One of the priorities of our coaching staff is finding players from the area who can help us,” Merritt said. “We just have to do a better job of recruiting the area.”

While those camps are less bent towards instruction and more towards seeing players’ skills, the youth camp is a different story.

“Today (Wednesday) will probably be a lot of drills,” Gomez said. “We may play a game on Friday.

“Our main goals are that they’re involved and having fun, and they learn a little baseball in the process. We try to teach skills, and whatever they retain is a bonus for us.”

Gomez and his staff are trying to build a program that went 26-24 in 2014, the Hounds’ first winning record since 2000. ENMU lost out on a head-to-head tiebreaker for fourth place and the final spot in the Lone Star Conference’s postseason tournament.

“I think the winning season was a big part of what we were trying to do,” Gomez said, “but we fell short of the ultimate goal, and that was to make the postseason.”

Merritt said he thinks the Hounds can build a consistently strong program.

“We feel like this school is a sleeping giant,” he said. “There’s a lot of people that want to be here.”