May 23, 2024
  • 3:18 pm Several area seniors receive AgTexas scholarships
  • 3:17 pm 8 area students receive Five Area Connect Scholarships
  • 3:14 pm Muleshoe City Council considers childcare facility tax exemption
  • 3:14 pm This is what the Muleshoe National Wildlife Refuge Expansion means for landowners
  • 3:13 pm Muleshoe Art Association holds last meeting of the year

Muleshoe’s baseball and softball teams want to make a statement in 2024, but for different reasons.

For the Mules, they want to put themselves on the map. Muleshoe baseball missed the playoffs last season, finishing last in its district after not winning a single district game. This season, the Mules hope to generate excitement and in the words of their coach, Gentry Doolittle, make Muleshoe baseball a “thing” again. 

“It’s been a while since this school cared about baseball,” Doolittle said. “I’m really just trying to start from ground zero. That’s where we’re at right now.

For the Lady Mules, they want to get over the hump. Muleshoe softball has made the postseason for the past four full postseasons, but has yet to make it past the first round each time. Last year’s exit, a 14-2 loss to Presidio, was particularly crushing to Lady Mules coach Anthony Villanueva. 

“(The second round) is what we have our sights set on,” Villanueva said. “In a couple of years, I felt like we were ready and didn’t handle the pressure well, and a couple of years we weren’t the better team. This year, we want to come home with a trophy.”

The Lady Mules hope to clear the last hurdle, while the Mules might hope they can clear their first. But despite the differing goals, both Muleshoe teams have entered 2024 with similar motivations.

“We want teams that are gonna branch off into the whole community,” Doolittle said. “We want to win, but more than anything, I want us to build these kids and build these programs up.”

Doolittle is in his first season as the Mules’ head coach after serving as an assistant for former coach David Sturdivant. Having just graduated college in 2020, Doolittle is still fresh with energy and motivation, things he’s attempting to translate into his programs.

He’s got a tough road ahead of him. Doolittle is inheriting a program that has failed to have a winning season since 2015, and also one with a very young team. The good news is that means Doolittle hasn’t lost an important contributor from 2023. The bad news is there still may be holes to fill on an inexperienced team. 

It’s meant Doolittle has had to go back to the fundamentals, which has been the focus of the Muleshoe baseball offseason. 

“We’ve been working on a little bit of everything,” Doolittle said. “We’ve been working on getting our head behind the baseball, keeping our hands flat through the zone… our footwork… just little small things that you need in baseball.”

Despite the challenges, Doolittle feels the Mules have had a productive offseason. He’s particularly pleased with Muleshoe’s scrimmage against Abernathy last Saturday and feels like he now has players he can rely on. Those players are junior outfielder/pitcher Yahir Quezada, senior infielder/pitcher Sebastian Kirven and sophomore infielder/pitcher Daniel Mendoza.

Doolittle believes all three bring intensity and passion to the Mules, something he wants to see as he tries to create buzz around his program.

“They all just have a different feel for the game,” Doolittle said. “You can really see their competitive spirit come out every time they take the field. It translates over into how they play very well.”

He also hopes to get contributions from sophomore catcher Riley Railsback and junior infielder/catcher Donovan Moreno, two players who can “keep the spirits high,” and the versatile junior infielder Mauricio Herrera.

“They’re just good guys you’d like to have on any team,” Doolittle said. “They’re all great, all-around athletes and it’s just exciting to have them out there for us.”

The Lady Mules aren’t exactly starting from ground zero, but they are attempting to build something in Villanueva’s fifth season. Unlike its baseball team, Muleshoe’s softball team will have to replace key contributors from 2023. Those players are two pitchers in Amri Melton and Terrah Dominguez alongside infielder Kylie Hernandez, who played every infield position for Muleshoe last season. 

To fill their shoes, Villanueva is counting on sophomore pitcher Adalie Agundis, junior Heaven McMullen and senior catchers Bianca Serceres and Alexa Estrada. Villanueva hopes the latter three can bring much-needed leadership while Agundis can be the “workhorse” for Muleshoe.

He also hopes they can all help the Lady Mules improve their offense, which Villanueva tried to focus on in the offseason. 

We played defense well enough to win, but it felt like we didn’t hit the ball well enough,” Villanueva said. “We had to rework our approach and it’s still a work in progress, but I think we’ve seen some results for a lot of our girls.”

Those results have come in Muleshoe’s busy scrimmage schedule against Shallowater, Floydada, Dimmitt, Lubbock Trinity, Lubbock Christian, Slaton and Post. Agundis even hit her first career home run in the scrimmages against the latter two, giving Villanueva confidence that it can translate into the regular season.

Ultimately, Villanueva hopes the team he has is enough to finally make it past the first round. And if the Lady Mules stay healthy, he thinks the Lady Mules can do more than that and compete for a district title.

“We just want to be known as a team that’s not going to quit,” Villanueva said. “We want to continue playing with a 0-0 mentality all the time. I would like other teams to know that if they play in Muleshoe, they’re gonna have to play a full seven (innings) to put us away.”

He has similar hopes for the baseball team, wanting Muleshoe to be represented well.

“We’re all united for a common cause,” Villanueva said. “We all want to make things better than they were last year, and we’re in it together.”

Muleshoe Mules and Lady Mules

Baseball

Head coach: Gentry Doolittle

District: 3A-I District 3

Last season’s result: Missed playoffs

Top returners: P/OF Yahir Quezada, INF/P Daniel Mendoza, INF/P Sebastian Kirven, C Riley Railsback, C Donovan Moreno, INF/P Mauricio Herrera

Season opener: 2/19 at Ropes

Softball

Head coach: Anthony Villanueva

District: 3A-I District 3

Last season’s result: Lost in first round of playoffs vs Presidio

Top returners: P Adalie Agundis, C Bianca Serceres, C Alexa Estrada, UTL Heaven McMullen

Season opener: 2/13 vs Seminole

Nick Coppola

Muleshoe Journal

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