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

Custom Classic set for 36th go-around

 

June 19, 2019

File photo

Pete Chavez of MHF throws out a runner during the 2017 Custom Classic softball tournament. This year's tournament features 100 teams in five double-elimination brackets.

CLOVIS — The Plateau Custom Classic has become as much a part of the local summer as heat, thunderstorms and more heat.

Now in its 36th year, the Classic is still as big a summer tradition than ever. And once again, teams from around the panhandle and Eastern New Mexico will descend upon Clovis for a chance to play some really good competition, maybe win a championship. It begins Friday night and runs through Sunday afternoon.

The event hasn’t done any leaps-and-bounds growing since last year, but as of late Monday was still holding strong with five divisions and close to 100 teams.

“Actually it’s looking about the same — we’ve got three divisions of men and two divisions of women,” Roger Jackson, who has the headaches and joys of being a tournament organizer, said Monday night. “We’re still trying to fine-tune. We had 96 last year and it could be right in that range. ... I have a couple of teams dragging on me a little bit.”

The three men’s divisions will be Men’s Competitive, Men’s D and Men’s E. The two women’s divisions are Women’s Competitive and Women’s E.

That’s quite a bit more than the 13-or-so-team field that the inaugural tournament featured in 1984. There were 109 teams participating in 2017 and the past two years have come close to that. Plenty of serious softball players seem to have no problem driving through the plains and the desert, past the sagebrush, dodging the tumbleweed, for a crack at a Classic crown.

The majority of the tournament is held at the Guy Leeder Softball Complex on 14th Street, just short of the Norris intersection. Some women’s games, says Jackson, will be held at Bob Spencer Park on Sandia Drive.

This year, unlike some years past, the Custom Classic tournament will not directly coincide with the Draggin’ Main Music Festival. The latter will be just beginning at 4 p.m. Sunday with classic drive-in tours; the Custom Classic will wrap Sunday, probably sometime earlier.

“If nothing (unexpected) happens we should be out of there by 2 o’clock Sunday afternoon,” Jackson said.

Jackson is pleased with this year’s festival as opposed to recent conflicting ones.

“It didn’t jive too good for the hotels,” he said. “We were more concerned with the amount of beds and heads we could get in there. Next year we can try to jive again. Hopefully we’re helping the motels and restaurants get a piece of the pie from both events. The economic impact is pretty huge from both events.”

Primarily because, according to Jackson, over 50 percent of the teams most often hail from out of town.

“We have some coming from as far as El Paso, some from Odessa. Of course Lubbock and Amarillo, and a women’s team coming for sure from Albuquerque. I think we’ve got some good teams coming in, no doubt, and our locals teams hopefully can compete with some of them. But Texas teams are usually pretty tough.”

As of Monday night, Jackson was expecting Friday’s action to begin at 6 or 7 p.m. Games will run through most of the night, with action that could go to the wee-smalls of 3 or 3:30 a.m.

The tournament is then expected to resume at roughly 7 a.m. Saturday morning. They’ll go most of the night Saturday into Sunday before the championship round begins around 11 a.m. Sunday.

“Men’s and Women’s Competitive will be finished Saturday night,” Jackson said. “We guarantee those teams it’s a one-day event. So we try to give the competitive teams a little bit of a break where they don’t have to play all night long. ... It seems to work out for them.”

Even with the games being on the insomnia circuit, it’s apparently a good time for all who show up, whether they drive hundreds of miles or a few blocks to compete.

“It’s just nice seeing these people,” Jackson said. “I’ve got some people (for whom) this is their 36th. They buy the shirts and they say, ‘I’ve got one from the 10th annual and the 20th annual.’ As we get older we see some of their kids playing and then their kids’ kids come out and play.

“We hope the weather lets us play,” Jackson added. “It says it’s going to be sunny and it will be hot. But we’ll take hot over rain.”

Sounds like a fine tradition and a fun weekend.

“36th year, it’s a long time,” Jackson said. “Everybody benefits. Even though it’s a little loud and noisy, it’s a benefit for Clovis.”

 
 

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