South team has local presence

By Dave Wagner

Charlene Reyes has regularly fielded quality teams in nine years as Alamogordo’s softball coach, including two state champions.
Still, she feels almost an embarrassment of riches in coaching the South squad in this year’s North-South all-star series at Lady Wildcat Field. The teams meet in a 6:30 p.m. doubleheader today. The teams complete the series with a 10 a.m. single tilt on Saturday.
“You don’t usually have the luxury of having four pitchers and four catchers, so that’s nice,” said Reyes, whose squad is coming off a Class 5A state title last month. “Some years, you’re lucky if you have one pitcher who’s a senior.
“It’s a lot of fun getting to work with some of the better girls in the state. It gives some of those seniors a chance to shine a little bit.”
The Lady Tigers comprise one-fourth of the 16-player South roster, including senior pitcher Michelle Sayen. She’s been Alamo’s main hurler for most of the past five seasons.
“She took the role willingly and she’s been on a roll ever since,” said Reyes, whose assistant at Alamo and this weekend is her husband of 23 years, Ronnie. “This year, we used her quite bit to help her get more experience.”
Sayen, who also plays outfield, credited her father for helping develop her game.
“When I was little, I was a shortstop,” she said. “One day I was watching another girl pitch, and I thought I’d try that.
“I started late for being a pitcher (age 12); most people usually start around 8 or 9. But I enjoy playing outfield, too. My love is pitching, but if I’m playing the outfield that’s good for me.”
The 5-foot-2 Sayen has signed to play next year at El Paso Community College, although her coach thinks she could play at some point at the Division I level — perhaps either at nearby Texas-El Paso or New Mexico State.
She said she wouldn’t mind that.
“I got some other offers, but I decided to go to (junior college) for two years and get experience before I transfer to a four-year program,” she said.
Catcher-outfielder Alicia Odom of host Clovis and outfielder Erica Feliciano of Portales represent the immediate area on the South squad.
Feliciano is going to be attending Eastern New Mexico University in the fall, and said she is planning to try out for the softball team. The all-star experience has been a learning experience for her after three seasons with the same nucleus.
“It’s a lot different,” Feliciano said. “I think it’s more intense than how it’s been throughout my three years playing. You’re with a group of girls you don’t know and you don’t know how they play.”
Odom, who will attend Eastern New Mexico University in the fall, said she feels privileged to play in the event on her home field.
“It’s a little weird playing with girls you’ve played against during the season, but it’s definitely an honor,” Odom said. “It’s really neat to come back out here. There are a lot of good athletes on the team.”
PNT Managing Editor Kevin Wilson contributed to this report.