By Kevin Wilson
Starting pitching, relief pitching, hitting for power, hitting for average, fielding.
Those are all things that could help the Greyhounds rebound from a 2-8 start, but veteran Eastern New Mexico Phil Clabaugh sees things in a much simpler way.
“The only way we’re going to start winning is to quit losing,” Clabaugh said before Thursday’s practice. It was the first outdoor practice this week due to inclement weather, and it will be the last practice due to 1 p.m. doubleheaders against Cameron University Friday and Saturday.
“We haven’t been able to hit (due to the snow),” Clabaugh said. “Today’s our first day out on the field.”
Clabaugh is hopeful that ENMU (2-8) won’t use the lack of practice as an excuse going into the series against their Lone Star Conference North Division opponent. Clabaugh thinks the Aggies (8-2) will come in confident with senior pitcher Derek Bennett. Bennett was the North’s pitcher of the week, picking up two wins, a save and 21 strikeouts in three appearances.
“They come in with a belief they can come in here and win,” Clabaugh said, “so I think it is a big weekend for us.”
The Greyhounds also had a player recognized, as outfielder Justin Gee was named the South Division’s hitter of the week.
The Clovis sophomore was 9-of-19 from the plate, including a 5-of-10 performance in ENMU’s three-game series at Texas A&M-Kingsville last weekend.
“It’s hard to tell in this short of time, but the basic difference between this year and last year is he’s not afraid to look bad,” Clabaugh said of Gee. “Baseball’s a game of negativity. If you can’t handle the negativity, you’re going to struggle. He could go ‘oh-fer,’ but it’s not going to change his approach.”
Clabaugh currently is not allowing players to give interviews, noting that his young team needs to focus on baseball for right now.
Kelly Crain will start today’s opener, while Ian Thurman-Kelly is slated for his first start of the year in the nightcap. Clabaugh said junior Trevor Davis will start Saturday’s opener, and the second game will likely be a game-time decision between freshmen Josh Stephenson and Keith Baldarez.