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

Zia 9 &11 players are ready

Taking on Las Vegas in the state Final Four tonight.

 

July 20, 2018



CARLSBAD — The Zia 9 & 11 All-Stars can only hope they play up to the nickname they themselves came up with for the team.

Hit City.

Beginning tonight, that Clovis boys team is playing Las Vegas Little League in the semifinals of the 9 & 11 New Mexico State Tournament in Carlsbad. A victory sends the Zia All-Stars, via the winner’s bracket, to their next game on Saturday at 6 p.m. A loss and they have to bounce back quickly for a loser’s bracket game on Saturday morning at 8 a.m.

“But we don’t look at the loser’s bracket,” Zia coach Quinn Culiver said with a chuckle. “A little superstitious.”

When reached by telephone Thursday night, Culiver was already with his team in Carlsbad, having batting practice. They’re working hard, hoping they take the tournament — held at the Bob Forrest Youth Sports Complex — all the way to Monday. That’s when it ends, and they want to be the last team standing when it does.

Culiver likes their chances.

“This team is exactly that, a team,” he said. “Their team-first attitude, their team-first mindset. These kids, they’ve got a hunger to them. They’re hungry, they believe. In practice they push each other to their max. They don’t let one kid slack off. They want to make history, that’s what they said the other day. Their mindset is to make history.”

Culiver says there are eight players on the current Zia 9 & 11 team who were parts of a 10-and-under team last year. “So the chemistry was there before the All-Stars began,” he said.

With four new players blending in, the Zia 9 & 11 All-Stars have found the right mix. It took them to Albuquerque, where they earned their Final Four berth, and now they’re road warriors again, playing in Carlsbad. That’s a step up as far as playing surfaces go. Last time out they played on a field with infield turf only. Tonight, it’s turf here, turf there, turf everywhere.

“Beautiful facility,” Culiver said. “There are about 16 fields out here. And the field that we will play our tournament on will be an all-turf field — infield and outfield. So it’ll be something dfifferent for some of the boys.”

They will do what they can to crown themselves state champions on that sparkling field, but it won’t be easy. Culiver says he scoured the Internet for information about his opponents, but could find none. Still, he has a general idea about them.

“I just feel that if they’re in the Final Four, they did something right,” he said. “I expect there to be a lot of good hitting and good pitching. I don’t know much about the team, just that we’re going to have to play some ball around here.”

Enough of it that they can reward their loyal followers.

“We appreciate all the support we’ve gotten from the community and parents,” Culiver said. “We’re looking to bring home a state title, bring it to the eastern side of New Mexico.”

 
 

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