Girls battle for state seed at Lil’ Custom Classic

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

Tony Cordova is in for a busy weekend.

Cordova has two teams in the fourth annual Lil’ Custom Classic slow-pitch softball tournament at Guy Leeder Complex — one in girls 16-and-under and another in boys 12-and-under — and, he said, they approach it in different ways.

For the girls, it’s preparation for state and national competition. On the other hand, the boys look at it as a change of pace from Little League baseball.

“They just go out there and have fun,” Cordova said. “There’s not a lot of pressure. It’s a break from baseball for them, to tell the truth.”

The girls, on the other hand, are looking ahead to state competition at Hobbs July 9-12 and a national USSSA tournament scheduled for July 22-24 at Guy Leeder.

“It’s really like a practice tournament for state,” Cordova said. “It’s really the only one we can go to and not have to spend a lot of money.”

A total of 34 teams — all but six from Clovis — are entered in the two-day event which begins Saturday morning. The tournament includes five girls divisions, ranging from 8-and-under to 16-and-under, plus the one boys division.

Tournament director Roger Jackson said a 6-and-under girls exhibition game is also planned for Saturday morning.

“The majority of the teams are local,” he said. “It’s hard to get teams from out-of-town. But we’re in this to get kids some experience for the state tournaments.”

Cordova said he has entered a team in each of the three years the boys have participated in the event. He said he lets his son, Antonio “Cowboy” Cordova, put the team together, adding that the boys field has grown from three to six teams.

His softball team, Fear This, is a combination of the Lookouts and his former team, Girl Power, which finished first and third in state competition last year.

For Clovis Sting, coached by Robbie LeClear, the 10-and-under division will be almost like a league tournament — the six-team field comes from Sting’s local summer circuit.

LeClear, whose squad is undefeated and in first place in its league, said the teams are quite familiar with each other.
“The girls kind of know how everybody plays, but the tournament atmosphere is totally different,” he said. “We want to finish near the top so we can get a higher seed at state.”

Sting did travel to a tournament last weekend in Ruidoso, coming away with the championship. He said the girls raised money to help with travel expenses, and also got some donations.

“I just like to let them play all the ball they can,” he said. “We’re looking towards state, and the nationals too.”