By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer
Tomas Gallegos is hoping his Clovis Looscrewz team can make a run to another title in the 24th annual Plateau Wireless Custom Classic this weekend at Guy Leeder Complex.
He knows it’ll be a little tougher, because Looscrewz moved up from men’s Class E to Class D this season.
“Hopefully, we’ll make a good run like we did last year,” Gallegos said. “The caliber of teams are a little better (in D), but both classes are able to put out tough teams.”
Gallegos said most of the members of his second-year team are related in some way — cousins, brothers, nephews — and he thinks they’ve improved.
He said Looscrewz played against D teams last year with limited success, but has fared much better this season.
“This year, we’ve got more experience,” he said. “Some of these young guys know what it feels like to win.”
A total of 115 teams are scheduled to participate in five divisions — men’s C, D and E, and women’s competitive and recreation. Play begins at 7 p.m. tonight and wraps up Sunday afternoon.
Tournament director Roger Jackson said a number of teams were turned away because, unlike previous years, fields in Portales will not be available.
“We would have had about as many teams (126) as we had last year (had the Portales fields been available),” Jackson said.
Gallegos expects a competitive weekend for his team.
“So far this year, we’ve done pretty good,” he said. “The Custom always has a good turnout (of teams).”
In women’s competitive, Portales Elite hopes to make a strong showing after winning only one game over the past two Custom Classics, coach John Vestal said.
Vestal said his squad this year will feature a number of players off the Eastern New Mexico University softball team, many of whom are having to make the transition to slow-pitch but have solid basic softball skills.
“We decided we needed to get a better team that was more fundamentally sound,” Vestal said. “(But) it’s a new world coming from fast-pitch.
Vestal said Elite went 3-2 in the women’s rec division in 2004, but hasn’t fared as well in the tournament since moving up two years ago.
“We have a pretty good team,” he said. “I like our chances.”
Prior to the start of the 24th annual Custom Classic on Friday, a ceremony is planned to dedicate the Guy Leeder Memorial Waterfall/Fountain.
Leeder died earlier this year.
• What: Dedication of the Guy Leeder Memorial Waterfall/Fountain.
• When: 6:30 p.m. today
• Where: Guy Leeder Softball Complex