The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Clovis American takes control in softball tourney

American moves to next week's phase of tournament with 13-0 win over Atrisco.

 

Kevin Wilson

Clovis American second baseman Espy Tafoya makes the throw to first baseman Jenice Hudson in the bottom of the second inning of Saturday's state tournament game at the Clovis High School softball complex. American moved on to next week's action with a 13-0 win in five innings.

CLOVIS — Bats that got swinging after a slow start. Feet that motored around the basepaths turning doubles into triples. Opportunistic baserunners capitalizing on errors. Stellar pitching and crisp fielding.

All of it resulted in Clovis American’s 13-14 junior league team taking the first step toward defending its New Mexico Junior Softball state title with a 13-0, five-inning victory over Atrisco Valley on Saturday at the Lady Wildcats Softball Complex.

That win propels Clovis American into next weekend’s action, which will also take place at the friendly confines of the Lady Wildcats Complex. There’s plenty more softball to be played just off of Martin Luther King Boulevard, and Clovis American is guaranteed to be part of it for at least a while longer.

As it should be, according to Clovis American coach Jose Lopez. A team that draws the best of the best should be adept at hitting, pitching, fielding and running the bases in tournaments like these.

“We have an all-star team from all three teams we had in Clovis,” Lopez said. “So out of that we pick the best players. They’re all out here, they share time.”

And they’re dedicated.

“They practice, they put in a lot of work,” said Lopez, who’s in his first year coaching the team. “They totally sacrifice their summer. We can’t put in a good practice with them swimming, so they don’t swim very much. (Summer) basketball just finished. ... And most of them are doing volleyball right now, too.”

The diligence is already starting to pay off, though it wasn’t yet evident in the top of Saturday’s first inning. Designated as the visiting team, Clovis American went three up-three down with a fly out, a ground out of the come-backer variety, and a strikeout. About five minutes in and Clovis American’s initial offensive inning was done.

“The first inning, they came out kinda slow, didn’t hit the ball,” Lopez said. “But after that they came out and did well.”

Did they ever. First, though, came sharp defense in the bottom of the first. Clovis American starter Marisa Lopez overcame a leadoff single, and a bit later, a one-out walk thanks in part to a strike-’em-out-throw-’em-out to end the inning. Lopez fanned Victoria Chaparro, then Clovis American catcher Abigail Morris leapt up and picked off Amarae Acosta trying to take third.

Clovis American scratched out its first three runs with opportunistic play in the top of the second. Divina Lopez came around and in on a throwing error past third base, Chastity Hardy scored on a passed ball, and Skylar Schuette came home on a wild pitch.

The lead became 4-0 when Marisa Lopez scored on Jenice Hudson’s third-inning sacrifice fly, before the flood gates opened wide with three runs in the top of the fourth and six more in the fifth. The fourth-inning runs were plated by: Schuette’s RBI single to score Demi Garcia, a Morris groundout that enabled Schuette to score, and Marisa Lopez’s RBI base-knock that brought Alyssa Cruz home. Garcia had gotten it all rolling by leading off with one of those triples that resulted from speedy base-running.

Clovis American, as a team, was clicking in the fifth, getting it kick-started with one out. Garcia drew a walk, took second on a wild pitch, third on a passed ball, and scored easily when Schuette tattooed one to center. Schuette legged what seemed to be a double into a triple, and soon scored on an error.

The remaining runs were tallied on: Morris’ bloop double that scored Marina Sena, Marisa Lopez’s RBI single that plated Morris, Marisa Lopez eventually scoring on an error, and Ortiz’s double that drove Divina Lopez home.

Kevin Wilson

Clovis American pitcher Marisa Lopez helps her own cause by socking a leadoff triple in the third inning. Lopez went 3-for-4 with a pair of runs scored, and allowed just one hit and two walks on the day.

In the bottom halves of innings, Marisa Lopez was unhittable after the first and allowed just four baserunners all day. She mowed through the second, third and fourth innings 1-2-3, then after issuing a leadoff walk to start the fifth, recorded three consecutive outs — two by strikeout — to send Clovis American forward.

The 13-year-old hurler and her teammates are, not surprisingly, a confident bunch.

“I think we can go pretty far,” Marisa Lopez said, “if we work hard.”

In other local action — Clovis American’s majors (10-12) team was eliminated in their tournament, falling Friday 15-1 to Turquoise National (Gallup) and 17-11 to Sunset (Albuquerque).

An intermediate boys team, comprised of Quay, Springer and Clovis Zia, has reached Sunday’s 11 a.m. championship at West Mesa Little League in Albuquerque. If the team wins either the 11 a.m. game or the “if” game in the double elimination bracket it will move on to regionals in Grand Junction, Colorado.

 

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