Invaders looking to return to 2011 form
By Karen Boehler
Pecos League writer
ROSWELL — Stories abound in sports of teams going from first to worst, and while that wasn’t exactly the case in the Pecos League last year, Roswell (which finished fourth) had a really tough sophomore season.
“We had a rough year, no doubt about it,” said league commission Andrew Dunn. “No doubt about it, (Roswell was) the Pecos League’s best team in 2011. You open the first ever Pecos League, you beat the El Paso Diablos. You win the regular season. You win the first round of the playoffs — you win a tightly contested series with Alpine. Then you beat Ruidoso in the championship. You win it all. Everything goes your way. Players are doing fine. Players are getting moved up and everything is going great. We come into this season in 2012, and to say the wheels fell off the wagon would be an understatement.”
Without going into all the sordid details, on and off the field problems led to a less than stellar season. But this year, Dunn said, the Invaders are ready to rebound.
“I knew I needed to get a person in Roswell who was top-of-the-line manager, in line with a Bill Moore or Casey Dill,” the commissioner said. “That was what we were looking for, and that was going to be the receipe to get this thing back. We needed somebody who could get along with people. Who could pay attention and thy could get in a good team. We needed to completely start over from there.”
With that in mind, Dunn hired Chris Ebright
“Chris Ebright’s the guy,” he said. “I feel very strongly about Chris. He’s here for the right reasons, and I think when he came to visit, I think people liked Chris.
“I think fans are going to like the roster that’s put together, and I think they’re going to like the attitude of the coaches. Both Chris Ebright and (assistant manager) Kevin Dore are Michigan guys. They’ve got great attitudes and they’re easy to get along with. And that’d what we need. We need somebody who can interact with the community and talk to people and get along. And that’s what everybody’s asked me to do.”
And while Ebright might disagree — managers always want to win everything — Dunn said all he’s looking for is some of the on- and off-the-field success Roswell saw in 2011.
“We’re just trying to get back to where we were,” he said. “We’re not trying to set any new standards. If we can have a season like ’11, everybody would love it. The league’s a lot tougher. It’s not going to be easy for a team to just run through the league.”
Dunn also stressed that Roswell’s future has nothing to do with the Las Cruces Vaqueros, a two-season team that was dropped from the league this year.
“The fans have asked me to get this thing back the way it was in 2011. To completely wipe 2012 off the board and that’s what I’m doing and we’re moving forward. We’re glad to be there. It’s not a one-year experiment. There’s no connection between Las Cruces and Roswell.”
With San Diego moving its AAA team to El Paso in 2014, Dunn said the future of the Vaqueros and the El Paso Diablos is limited, but every other team in the Pecos League will continue.
“We’re there to stay. Everywhere we’re there, we’re there to stay,” he said.
Last year’s problems drove both the fans and sponsors away, but Dunn said the sponsors are already returning, and he hopes the fans will, too.
“We’re going to invite everybody back, and whoever comes back comes back,” he said. “We really are appreciate of the support we get from the churches, from Lovelace, from the UFO Museum and all of our sponsors. We’re excited to be there.”
And with some games scheduled to be played In Artesia (the dates haven’t been set yet) Dunn hopes to expand the Invader fan beyond Chaves County.
“We’re just going to have fun with it,” he said of the games in the top-flight Artesia high school stadium. “We’ll just tell our players they have to come back to Coke Park after the game.”
After a preseason exhibitions vs. the El Paso Diablos in El Paso May 10, the Invaders open the season May 14 at home vs. the Las Vegas Train Robbers.
For more information visit Pecos League of Professional Baseball Clubs LLC. http://www.PecosLeague.com 575-680-2212