In the 50th anniversary of the Fresno Easter Classic, the Clovis East Timberwolves showed just how far they’ve come over the 2019 season with four strong showings, including three wins.
“We’ve been playing well, and we’ve been one or two knocks or one or two plays away from winning some games this season and I think it did our guys some good to see other teams,” Clovis East head coach Ryan Smith said.
“We beat a tough Santana team, we were in it against a really good Redwood team; we split the series with them this year, and I think we finally just relaxed and had some fun with it, so it was a good week for us.”
Clovis East defeated the Hoover-Fresno Patriots 13-3, they beat the Santana Sultans 3-1, they lost a close contest 6-4 to the Redwood-Visalia Rangers and the Timberwolves finished off the Fresno Easter Classic with a mercy-rule finish against the North-Bakersfield Stars 10-0.
Pitching was a key highlight throughout the Fresno Easter Classic for the Timberwolves. Carson Leoni pitched five innings against the North Stars, only allowing a single hit, while Gino Helmuth pitched three innings, striking out six against Redwood.
Leoni’s performance was pleasing to see for Smith.
“He was around the zone. He competed, he had control over his fastball and his breaking stuff was good and sharp. The guy behind the plate helped give him f=confidence as well, allowing him to bounce two-strike balls into the dirt if he needed to and everything was kind of clicking, it was good.”
After a 3-1 performance in the 50th anniversary of the Fresno Easter Classic, the Timberwolves have confidence moving forward after a strong showing over the four games.
That confidence will be tested when the Timberwolves get back to school next week. The first place Buchanan Bears are their next opponent.
“They are feeling good right now. We feel like we can beat any track team. We compete, we grind, and we’re not scared of any teams in the TRAC,” Smith said. “Getting three wins this week is big for their confidence and we want to keep that momentum moving forward.”
As a former Buchanan baseball player, Smith has some extra motivation to come out of the Buchanan series with a good result.
“I went to Buchanan and anytime I can beat those guys is fun for me. All those guys coached me and so I think it would be fun to go over there and beat them and it would be big for our program if we could get that done.”
Aside from the personal feelings towards his old school, Smith recognizes that the Bears are the not only the leaders in the TRAC, but a model for baseball programs around the Valley. The winning and culture of the program takes time to build and for the Timberwolves, they have improved over the season until this point and believe they can continue making strides in the future.
“We’ve grown up so much, there were things you could see and things you couldn’t. Last time we talked, there were things I was seeing and especially in this tournament. Balls were falling, guys were taking extra bases and we were communicating on little things that I’ve been harping on that matter and they are finally trusting and buying into the system,” Smith said.
“I’m seeing it and I know we are going to be a tough ball club in the last couple weeks of the season.”