Zia players like pizza, Barry Bonds and Kerry

Clovis Zia pitcher Phillip Martinez pitched three innings in last weeks District 3 11-year-old tournament championship game at Dickinson Field. Photo by Eric Kluth

By Dave Wagner

Members of the Clovis Zia All-Stars like Barry Bonds, John Kerry in the presidential election and are torn between X-box and Play Station2 when it comes to video games.

Zia begins play in the state 11-year-old Little League tournament at 7 p.m. on Saturday on its Beachum Field, playing the winner of a first-round game tonight matching the champions of Districts 1 and 4. Zia has a first-round bye tonight, while the other six teams will be in action at Beachum and Dickenson Field in the double-elimination event.

Having a bye is all right with Zia center fielder Ray Riley.

“I sort of like to wait and see how the other teams play,” Riley said.

At the same time, it’s been more than a week since Zia defeated Clovis American 12-10 for the District 3 championship.

“We’ve been practicing so much, I’m ready for a little competition,” he said. “We haven’t played in a long time.”

Zia players had a swimming party on Thursday at Potter Park, and answered a bevy of questions on a survey ranging from favorite movies to who they’d like to see elected president.

Outfielder Taisha Bosque, the only girl on the squad, was one of the few leaning toward President Bush in the upcoming election, adding that she’d like to meet him “for all that he does for our country. I think he’s a very good president.”

Zia manager Dewey Patton said Taisha is treated like one of the boys.

“Taisha’s incredible,” said Patton, who has spent 28 years coaching Little League baseball. “I told her that when she plays out here, she’s not a girl any more; she’s a ballplayer.”

When it comes to video games, the team was split down the middle as to whether X-box or Play Station 2 is better.

Shortstop Adam Anaya voted for Play Station 2.

“I like it because it’s more entertaining than X-box,” he said. “There’s a lot more games on Play Station.”

Right fielder Luis Prieto said his favorite movie is “Sea Biscuit,” about a Triple Crown-winning racehorse from the 1930s.

“It’s about animals, and I’m interested in animals,” he said, adding that he has two horses at home, “plus goats, turkeys, roosters and chickens” and a couple of dogs.

San Francisco Giants slugger Barry Bonds was a solid favorite among the 11 players surveyed. Still, Giants fan Matthew Encinias went with New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez, although admitting he’s only been following the game for a couple of years.

“I just like the way he plays,” Encinias, a first baseman, said of A-Rod.

Third baseman-pitcher Raul Trujillo was chosen “funniest teammate” on four ballots.

“He always just makes jokes,” Riley said. “If you strike out or you’re sad because you haven’t had a hit all night, he’ll try to make you laugh.”

This is the first year of the 11-year-old division, formerly a part of the majors division (ages 11-12).

“It’s a honor for it to be held in Clovis,” Patton said. “I figure we might as well have some fun with it.”

It took a good effort to beat American, he said. The teams played three times in the district tournament, and each game was competitive.

“They hung together and pulled it out when it was crunch time,” he said.