No rest for Custom participants
It all depends upon your perspective, when it comes to the 24-7 schedule of the Custom Classic softball tournament in Clovis, and Steve Watkins of Juice liked his team's angle late Saturday morning.
CMI correspondent photo: Joshua Lucero
Shortstop Tyler Swisher of Extreme throws to first after catching a line drive for an out during Extreme's game against Cheba Hut Saturday afternoon.
Juice had just beaten I'd Hit Dat by an 8-4 count in the Men's E Division bracket — the largest field (48 teams) of any of the tourneys taking place and the most recreational of the men's.
The members of I'd Hit Dat had lost the night before, in a 7 p.m. Friday start, and had got a full night of rest before the 10 a.m. start at the Guy Leeder Complex.
However, those on the Juice squad had won their Friday night opener and then played again in a 4 a.m. Saturday that ended in defeat. But when the Juice vs. I'd Hit Dat matchup took place, both teams were on the brink of ending their stay in the double elimination tournament although Juice was one win more successful at that point.
After the considerably more wearied Juice members prevailed though, shortstop Watkins put a positive spin on the crack-of-dawn game some seven hours earlier.
"It works out good, because now we don't have to play until eleven tonight," said Watkins, 36, a minister at Faith Christian Church in Clovis. "Now we get a good break."
Watkins played college baseball at more than one locale, including Lubbock Christian and the University of Georgia, before his hardball days were over.
"I do it for fun," said Watkins of the slow-pitch softball world. "Some guys are pretty competitive. I just love the game, so I just try to enjoy everything I do."
The Custom Classic, now in its 29th year, has 120 teams spread out over five divisions.
While some teams in the Men's E class could only be said to be wearing uniforms in the loosest sense of the word, the 15-team Men's Competitive division had matching bat bags, attire sharply emblazoned with sponsor's names and sometimes with the players' own names on the back of the uniform.
"It's a pretty big amount of cash, but we have a sponsor too. It's a lot of money, but whatever they give us we also collect to match that amount," said Albuquerque Extreme manager Armando Sanchez of the cost for his team. "For us, it's very serious. A lot of guys are here just to hit the ball, but for us it's hitting and defense."
There was a lot of hitting when Extreme defeated Peligro of Clovis by a 22-21 count on Saturday.
Each game has a clock running on the scoreboard, lest the matchup lasts too long. Extreme actually had a 20-14 lead in the bottom of the fifth and made its third out of the inning with only seven seconds remaining on the clock.
That meant the game had to go another frame. And Peligro rebounded to score seven in the top of the sixth to go up 21-20.
But Extreme answered again with two runs to win and advance in the winner's bracket.
On the other hand...
"Sometimes we've done good out here and other years we haven't. It's best that you win the first game, but sometimes you can't," said John Jimenez of Peligro. "We'll just go on from here and see what happens."