Lil Stars fall short

Lubbock Titan Blast’s Jayce Martinez is tagged out at third base by Clovis Lil Stars’ Chelsea Faircloth during Sunday the USSSA national tournament at the Guy Leeder Softball Complex. (Staff photo: David Irvin)

By David Irvin: CNJ staff writer

Time ran out for the Clovis Lil Stars in Sunday’s championship game of the USSSA National Youth Slow Pitch Rec tournament.

Up against the undefeated Lubbock Titan Blast, the Lil Stars needed two wins to take the championship in the 10-and-under bracket. The Lil Stars tied the neck-and-neck game at 14 in the top of the sixth inning, leaving the Lubbock team in need of just one run to win the game, and they got it when Jayce Martinez crossed the plate on a drive to the outfield.

Martinez said it felt good to cruise across home plate to a championship victory.

“It’s party time,” she joked.

Lubbock coach Mark Tiererina said the difference in the game was the last bat his team got — that and the team’s cohesiveness from so many games played together.

“This is our league team,” he said, “we’ve been playing together all year.”

Despite taking second in the tournament, Stars coach Ruben Lucio was pleased with his team’s performance.
“The girls have worked hard all year,” Lucio said. He said the Stars have taken two first place finishes and two second place finishes in tournaments this year. “We just play smart defense and don’t throw the ball away.”

They reached the final double-elimination tournament by defeating the Clovis Sting 13-9 earlier in the afternoon. Because the Stars lost out to the Titan Blast earlier in the tournament, they had to beat Lubbock twice to win the tournament.

The national tournament brought about 26 teams in from out of town, tournament organizer Roger Jackson said. Each of those teams brought a number of players and parents to Clovis, he said, which impacts the local economy.

“It brings money to the city, which is great,” he said of the “first ever” national tournament in Clovis. “I think it is a big local impact.”

In all, he said there were 489 room hotel nights sold to team members, coaches and parents. Some teams spent over $3,000 just in hotel costs.