By Kevin Wilson
Heading into this week’s Little League All-Star tournaments, a pair of Roosevelt County teams are hoping there is no place like home.
Three different tournaments, sorted by age, will feature teams battling for supremacy in a double-elimination format. Roosevelt and Clovis have representation in each tournament — with Clovis having American and Zia — and Quay County is participating in the majors and 9-10 tournaments.
The Roosevelt County teams were selected by giving each player, coach, umpire and league official a ballot for their respective age group.
For two of the three tournaments, the Roosevelt County team will have its opening game at Rotary Park in Portales. The majors bracket has a 7 p.m. Tuesday game against Zia, while the 11-year-old team opens play in a 7 p.m. Wednesday game against American.
The team representing Roosevelt in the 9-10 bracket will open on the road against Quay County in a 7 p.m. Thursday game.
“It helps us a lot (being at home), “said Jerry Rodriguez, who coaches the 11-year-old team for Roosevelt. “Going to Clovis, they always bring big crowds and it’s tough to be them there.”
It’s a sentiment echoed by Sammy Villanueva, one of the coaches for the majors team.
“It is good for our kids to be at home the first game,” Villanueva said. “We’ve worked really hard to get the field looking good for them.”
Villanueva feels confident about his club for many reasons, mostly related to defense.
“I think pitching’s going to be big for us,” Villanueva said. “Right now, we’re really good fundamentally on defense.”
Another thing that has Villanueva confident is the fact that he doesn’t have to motivate them — the coach said he had to tell them they weren’t going to practice on Sunday.
Granted, all teams involved have had plenty of time to practice, with the tri-county tournament abandoned for this season. Villanueva said he was disappointed when he first heard about the tri-county tournament being canceled, but figured it didn’t help any team more than another.
In any case, the Clovis American league, which has more teams than the other three leagues, looks like a tough matchup in each bracket.
“I was up in Clovis the other day and that American team looks tough,” Rodriguez said. “I feel like we’ve got a chance against them.”