By Eric Butler: CNJ correspondent
LAS CRUCES — Clovis’ undefeated softball players were warned, heading into the weekend, that the level of their competition would be dramatically different at the Southern New Mexico tournament.
The Wildcats usually reached full cognition of that difference while playing from behind. And, though the ‘Cats fought back repeatedly, the unblemished record is no more as Clovis (6-3) dropped three out of its four contests in the 16-team tourney.
Anthony Gadsden, a regional playoff team from a year ago, was first up for Clovis on Friday. The Panthers burst out to a 9-1 lead only to see the Wildcats crawl back with a five-run fifth-inning outburst. Gadsden, which got two home runs from Angie Ortega, managed to stifle that comeback bid with six runs in the top of the sixth – en route to an 18-9 victory.
In the Friday nightcap for the ‘Cats, El Paso Franklin held a 2-1 lead before Clovis struck for two in the top of the seventh inning. The bottom of the seventh, though, saw Franklin counter with two of its own for a 4-3 victory.
“Something we said from the very beginning is that we were going to see the best of the best,” Clovis coach Brandi Thomas said. “This is what we need before we go into district. This is why every single one of these teams comes down here.”
Mayfield won the tournament by beating Carlsbad 5-3 in Saturday’s championship game.
Clovis bounced back from Friday’s setbacks to win its first game on Saturday, beating Valley 5-4.
Tied heading into the bottom of the seventh, Clovis catcher Annie Tweedy — who belted a homer against Gadsden the day before — this time hit a high drive to right that the Vikings’ rightfielder misplayed.
Ending up on third base, Tweedy came home when Jordan Garrett hit a grounder to second.
“We played hard. We gave everything that we got,” Thomas said. “There’s not one kid I can say walked out there and didn’t leave everything on the field. That showed us a lot.”
In Clovis’ finale, the Wildcats struck for four runs in the fifth to go ahead of perennial Class 4A playoff team Silver.
The big hit for the ‘Cats came when sophomore Cynthia Lucio clocked a double to left to tie the game at 3-3.
That was followed by RBI-singles from Sonia Chavez and Renee Gallegos.
But Silver got four of its own in the top of the seventh off Clovis pitcher Julie Surina — who hurled all four games for the Wildcats in the tournament.
Clovis got one run back against the Colts in the bottom of the seventh, but Lucio was left stranded at third when the final out was recorded as Silver escaped with a 7-6 win.
“We did okay. But we made a lot of mental errors and
that’s what cost us in the games that we lost,” Lucio said. “We thought about it too much.”