By Eric Butler
For many years, Pam Apodaca has grown used to playing a variety of infield positions in her numerous softball games in Albuquerque.
The recent Cibola High graduate is, however, about to embark on a post-prep journey that will take her into the outfield and to places outside her home city.
First stop for Apodaca? Clovis, for the North/South All-Star Softball Series — which begins with a doubleheader on Friday night and ends with a single game on Saturday at Lady Wildcat Complex.
When the fall semester rolls around in a few months, Apodaca will find herself in another unfamiliar place — El Paso. The 5-foot-1 former Cougars leadoff hitter has signed a full-ride scholarship to play softball and attend El Paso Community College.
Apodaca, who had one of the state’s leading batting averages (.617) this spring, is hoping that her two years in El Paso might eventually turn into an opportunity to play a couple more at another school.
“A lot of people I know that went to go play college just couldn’t do it starting off at a four-year school,” she said. “I think going to a community college will help me get used to having practice the way they do and having so much school. Hopefully, I’ll get the hang of it before I jump into something too big.”
One thing’s for sure, if Apodaca sticks with the El Paso CC regimen, she’ll have numerous opportunities to travel around the southwest and play.
The school has a 40-game fall schedule, and follows that with a spring slate of 70 more contests.
College ball will also give Apodaca a chance to play a new position. The El Paso coaches have told her they’d like her to try center field.
When she was a freshman at Cibola, Apodaca was used at first base. Then, as a sophomore and junior, she was one of the smallest Class 5A catchers in the state.
The 2004 season then saw Apodaca move to two more new positions.
“She played second base at the beginning of the year, then we moved her over to third. And she caught a couple of games,” Cibola coach Gene Victor said. “As she went, our team went. If she was successful with her on-base percentage during the game, the team was successful.”
As for playing on the North All-Star team this weekend, Apodaca says that she has no idea where she’ll take her glove onto the field for defense.
“They didn’t tell me anything,” Apodaca said. “So I guess I’ll just show up and, wherever they put me, I’ll play.”
The North, coached by Randy Burditt of Los Alamos, will try to achieve a rare series win in the event — having won it only four times in the previous 16 years of the event.
Last year, the South didn’t allow the North to even score a run in sweeping a rain-shortened series 4-0 and 8-0.
Other players to watch for the North will be West Mesa standout Adelina Lovato, who pitched for the Mustangs in the 2002 and 2004 Class 5A state championship games, and Highland’s Leslie Benavidez. St. Pius also sends a pair of key players to the squad in Michelle Gossein and Chelsea Duree.