By Eric Butler: PNT Correspondent
After sweeping through the recreation division undefeated in last year’s Custom Classic, members of the Clovis X-Treme women’s softball team thought maybe a step up in class would be appropriate.
So far, things have gone fairly well as X-Treme won one championship and finished second in the top division of a pair of earlier Clovis tournaments.
The face their bigger hometown test this weekend.
The 21st Annual Plateau Wireless Custom Classic slow-pitch softball tournament begins Friday night and will continue through all hours of the day until the champions in five divisions are crowned on Sunday afternoon.
X-Treme entered the 12-team competitive division for women.
According to X-Treme coach Gary Morris, the move up from rec-ball will certainly be more felt at the Custom Classic.
“To me, this is bigger than state,” says Morris, referring to slow-pitch New Mexico championships in Albuquerque played at the end of July. “The Slix, who are coming from Abilene, we hardly ever see those ladies — they’re a pretty tough team. And we’ve got a team called Blast, coming out of Lubbock, who are real good.”
Games will be played at the Guy Leeder Softball Complex on 14th Street beginning at 7 p.m. on Friday. Fields at the Bob Spencer Complex just east of the Clovis High softball park on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard will be utilized as well beginning on Saturday morning.
New champions will be crowned in the three men’s divisions with none of last year’s champions, including Silva’s of Albuquerque, not back.
With 119 teams total playing in this year’s Custom Classic, the various fields being used will see action at all hours of the day.
“This year, we’ll definitely be playing all night. We start at 7 Friday night, but the last game doesn’t start until about 3:30 Saturday morning,” Custom Classic organizer Roger Jackson said. “Then we’ll start at 6 a.m. Saturday and our last start on Sunday morning is at 5:15.
“Then, we’ll turn around and start at 7 Sunday morning, so there’s really no break there,” Jackson adds.
The tournament format is double-elimination in all divisions.
Jackson estimates that around 50 of the entries are Clovis-based team, which means the majority of squads, mostly from West Texas and New Mexico, will be having to spend nights at local hotels — until they are eliminated.
“My personal opinion is that it’s a huge impact economically. All the motels are full — they’ve been sold out for a long time. Hotels in Portales are full; hotels in Muleshoe are full,” Jackson said. “The restaurants I talk to always put on extra staff and try to accommodate as much as they can.
“It’s definitely a big economic impact — they spend a lot of dollars.”