By Kevin Wilson
There’s no shortage of softball in Clovis, and there’s no shortage of tournaments during the summer at Guy Leeder Softball Complex.
But Friday marked the opening of the city and center’s showcase, the Custom Classic. In its 31st year, the tournament annually draws more than 100 slow-pitch teams of all ages and skill levels.
This year’s edition includes 104 teams, 54 of them from Clovis, playing in one of five double-elimination brackets.
What follows is a glance at about 0.5 percent of the 203 possible games to be played through Sunday afternoon, the 7 p.m. first-round Women’s Class E matchup between Second Chance and Cleats and Cleavage.
6:50 p.m.: Tournament Director Roger Jackson said this tournament is starting out like most others, and he’s optimistic of good weather ahead. The souvenir table is busy, with the new camouflage tees a top seller.
6:55: It’s nearly game time, and Hector Hernandez already has a difficult managing situation. Some of the scheduled starters for Cleats and Cleavage are still rolling in, and the scorer’s booth is waiting on his lineup card. He’s also needed at the concession stand. He’s not too worried, though; his team of players from ages 13 to 35 have been together long enough that he can multitask without worrying about the team.
6:57: Bats are in the buckets for umpire examination. All equipment must meet the approval of the umpire, who checks for the USSSA stamp. If any player is caught using a non-checked bat, she and her coach are ejected. No controversy, though, as everything passes.
7:00: Aubrey Sandoval of Second Chance takes a few warmup pitches at AC/DC’s “Back in Black” plays over the complex’s PR system.
7:03: The first pitch is a ball to Aley Cordova of Second Chance, dressed in navy blue with red and white letters and numbers. She singles on the next pitch, but is forced out on a fielder’s choice at second base. The top of the first ends with a 5-4-3 double play.
Jackson reminds parents over the PA system to watch their kids in the playground area. Part of the playground was fenced off due to city water system work earlier in the day.
7:13: Cleats and Cleavage, outfitted in royal blue with orange lettering, escapes a jam in the second. Second Chance threatens, but shortstop DiDi Sandoval squelches a rally by chasing down a ball past third base, then doubling up the baserunner at second.
7:19: Cleats and Cleavage strikes first with two outs and two on, as first baseman Elizabeth Parraz doubles to left. She ends the inning trying to stretch it to a triple — Second Chance third baseman Chelsey Faircloth, wearing jersey No. 001, makes the easy tag.
Second Chance’s logo includes the name in block letters over angel wings. Coach/outfielder Courtney Oborny said the 19-and-under team of friends from school named the team for her father, Conrad Oborny.
“My dad had a heart attack in 2009,” Courtney said. “He got a Bible, and, ‘Second Chance’ was inscribed on it. We named it for him; he’s one of our biggest supporters.”
Oborny doesn’t have long to talk, as the team goes down in order. “Back at it,” first baseman Melissa Medina says.
7:26: Cleats and Cleavage scores again, this time on a two-run double by Marissa Hernandez. After some quick congratulations, she picks up her phone to answer a text message from her husband.
7:33: Hernandez is in a much better mood, with Cleats and Cleavage taking over matters. With an 8-0 lead, Hernandez said the team has been together for 10 years. As far as the name, he says with a laugh, “Ask them.”
7:37: After C&C gets another 1-2-3 inning, second baseman Kelly Hernandez said the name was just a matter of finding something that sounded good and didn’t exist.
“We’re just trying to have fun,” Kelly said. “We wanted to be different.”
Pitcher Shawna Peralez fouls off a pitch for the third strike to end the inning. A bases-clearing hit would have ended the game via 15-run mercy rule, but a 12-0 lead is nice too. The umpire double-checks with the scorer’s box to make sure of the mercy rule.
7:44: Second Chance loads the bases, but manages only a bases-loaded walk for Medlin. The final is 12-1, and no sooner are the teams off the field before Funsized and Venom are on it.
Second Chance goes to the consolation bracket, with a 3:15 p.m. game on Saturday. Cleats and Cleavage gets a brief rest before its 8:50 p.m. game with the Scorpions, also of Clovis.
One game down, 99.5 percent to go.