Good Sports: Clovis High baseball

Clovis High School's baseball coach has been the Cougars' head coach for 27 seasons, so when he talks, people listen.
March 14, 2014 12:00:00 AM PDT
Clovis High School baseball coach James Patrick has been the Cougars' head coach for 27 seasons, so when he talks, people listen -- especially about his 2014 squad.

"They work hard," Patrick said. "They like each other. They allow themselves to be coached, which is important, and then they play hard during games. So it's a good group, a fun group of kids."

Three Cougars are already signed to play top-flight Division I baseball. Catcher Alan Crowley is going to Washington State. Third Baseman McCarthy Tatum is staying home to be a Bulldog. And Shortstop Jake Gatewood is USC bound, if he doesn't get selected early in June's MLB Draft.

"Every aspect. That kid -- I look up to him personally," Tatum said. "He's just a great guy."

"I'm just focusing on winning a Valley championship," Gatewood admitted. "That's that one goal I've always had in high school. I've been close all three years, and I want to finish it this year."

While the Cougars aren't lacking in star power, they aren't lacking in team chemistry either. They hang out on weekends, they eat lunch together, and they expect greatness as one unit.

"We work hard," Crowley said. "We definitely put in the time and the work with all of our coaches and the players on the bench. On the field, everybody's one big family."

"You can have all the talent in the world you want but if everyone's not rooting for each other and pulling on the same side of the rope you're going to get nowhere," Gatewood added.

That plan will be tested at the end of the month at USA Baseball's National High School Invitational in North Carolina. Only 16 teams from across the country were invited.

"It'll be a tremendous experience for players, and our coaches and our parents," Patrick said. "We are looking forward to that. It's going to be great."

And when they return, it's back to focusing on their team goals of winning the ultra-competitive TRAC and bringing home coach Patrick's seventh Valley Championship.

"It's pretty much tunnel vision," said Tatum. "We can't let our heads get too big, just go day by day and play the game as everybody else."

"Everything that we have going right now is absolutely awesome," Crowley added. "Just being a part of it is amazing."

Cougar pride on full display, and the rest of the Valley has taken notice.


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