By John Eisel: CNJ sports writer
Clovis juniors Matt Ulibarri and Daniel Casarez were named to the all-tournament team from this past weekend’s Clovis Invitational.
Ulibarri went 4-for-4 with two triples and three RBIs on Friday against Santa Fe, while Casarez drove in four runs on two hits Thursday versus Fabens.
Also on the team was Fabens’ Josh Campos, Santa Fe’s Travis Fitch, Levelland’s Cade Potter, Del Valle’s Isaac Garcia and Marcus Huerta and champion Rio Rancho’s Dean Sedillo and David Broshious.
Rio Rancho’s Mike McDermott was named tournament MVP.
Melrose qualified for regionals under first-year coach Jason Lee despite having only three upperclassman.
The Lady Buffaloes finished second in the District 3-1A tournament and meet three-time defending state champion Des Moines Friday in the Region A semifinals in Des Moines.
Lee believed all along his team had a chance to get out of district.
“I knew we had to get better, but I thought the talent was there, certainly and the depth,” he said. “I knew it was going to be iffy.”
The Lady Buffs upset Elida to reach the district tournament game, losing to top-ranked Fort Sumner for the fourth time this season.
Lee said the Lady Buffaloes were more comfortable against Fort Sumner’s tenacious defense.
“Early, they put so much pressure, it was just a constant turnover,” Lee said. “They’re undefeated for a reason, they’re good.”
But then Melrose kept its composure and played more patiently on offense in the championship in Friday.
“The press is designed to make you play faster than you want to play,” Lee said.
Fort Sumner plays preseason No. 1 Cimarron in the other Region A semifinal.
This weekend is a prep sports lover’s dream in the Clovis area.
The Lady Wildcats softball team opens up its season at 4:30 p.m. Friday, hosting a six-team tournament. At 6 p.m., Melrose hosts Cimarron followed by Des Moines and Fort Sumner in the boys Class 1A Region A tournament, with the winners advancing to state.
For those preferring girls basketball and a nice drive, Grady hosts the first round of Class 1A Region B tournament on Friday as well.
Saturday starts off bright and early at 9:30 a.m. with a Portales softball doubleheader in the Lady Wildcat Invitational. At 1 p.m. Clovis opens a baseball doubleheader against Amarillo. The Clovis softball team could play at 2 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m., depending on how they wind up in the tournament.
Then Saturday finishes up with the regional tournament finals in Grady and Melrose, as well as the girls District 4-5A tournament championship at Rock Staubus Gym between the top-ranked Lady Cats and the winner of the semifinal game Thursday in Sandia.
It’s a little tougher to hit home runs at Bell Park in Clovis this season.
The height of the center field fence was increased to 12 feet on the sides and 16 feet in dead center to create a better hitter’s background. The rest of the fence is 8 feet high.
Clovis coach Shane Shallenberger said a dark background behind the pitcher makes it easier for hitter’s to pick up the ball out of a pitcher’s hand.
The CNJ is asking for coaches to send in rosters and schedules for spring sports. Please fax them to 742-1349 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— CNJ sports writer John Eisel can be reached at 763-6991 ext. 322 or email@example.com