By Dave Wagner: Freedom Newspapers sports writer
It’s not the Clovis-Portales Speed’s fault there were only three teams in the 12-and-under division of the USSSA youth slow-pitch recreational national tournament last weekend in Moore, Okla.
The Speed took care of its business, sweeping four games in double-round-robin play and then routing the Moore-based Angels 18-7 in the finals.
Speed coach Richard Forkum said organizers talked about combining the 12-and-under division with the 14-and-unders. But only two 14-U teams — the Clovis-based Lookouts and Spitfire — were going to come to Oklahoma and they eventually decided not to make the trip.
“I wouldn’t have had a problem with (combining brackets) if it meant having more teams down there,” Forkum said. “I was told they were expecting 20-30 teams in each bracket, but I think some teams went to the (USSSA competitive) World tournament in Louisiana the week before.”
The Speed beat the Angels 7-3 in their first game, then ran roughshod the rest of the weekend. The average score of its five games was 16-4.
“The first game was kind of tight,” Forkum said. “We didn’t hit the ball well (in that game), but our defense was great.”
The Speed finished in a tie for ninth in the New Mexico state tournament at Clovis in June, but Forkum said the team was invited to play in the Oklahoma event.
Three players batted above .880 for the weekend, Forkum said — Adrianna Lucero, 18-for-19 (.947) with two grand slams from her leadoff spot; Michele Garcia, 15-for-16 (.938) with three home runs, and Megan Martinez, 15-for-17 (.883) with two homers. Alicia Viscaino and Michaela Hulder handled pitching duties.
Garcia and teammate Charlotte Varney finished 1-2 in a hitting contest during the tournament, while the Speed’s Margarita Ortiz won a baserunning contest by going from home to home in 12.06 seconds.
In the 10-and-under rec division, the Clovis Blitz won three of its five games to finish fourth in a field of 11 teams.
The Blitz came in 24-0 for the summer before losing in the first round to the Moore-based American Slammers 6-5. The team rebounded to win three in a row, including an 8-6 win over the Moore Drillers that ended at 1 a.m. Sunday, before being eliminated on Sunday afternoon by the eventual runner-up Bethel (Okla.) Dust Devils 11-4.
Felicia Aguilar, the coach’s daughter, drove in three runs with a pair of triples in the win over the Drillers, including a two-run shot in the bottom of the fifth that brought the late-night game to an end because of a one-hour time limit.
“Ten-year-old girls don’t usually play ball until 1 o’clock in the morning,” Blitz coach Yolanda Aguilar said. “But it was good competition, and our girls held up pretty well.
“If we’d hit that first game, I think we’d have at least been able to get at least second place. I thought we shouldn’t have lost that game, but we didn’t bring our sticks.”
The team did come home with a championship of sorts, Aguilar said — the best-dressed award. “They liked our uniforms,” she said.
Allison Myers represented the Blitz in a hitting contest, featuring one member of each team, and finished third.