Little Leaguers anxious for tournament

Freedom New Mexico: Mickey Winfield Clovis American All-Star Antonio Hicks fields an infield grounder during practice Friday night. The 10-11-year old district tournament begins Tuesday night as American plays Roosevelt County.

By Mickey Winfield: Freedom New Mexico

As summer daylight stretches deep into eastern New Mexico nights, the area’s best young baseball players are using that extra daylight to begin their second season; the Little League All-Star District 3 tournaments.

The Clovis American 10-11-year-old All-Stars have been practicing for a few weeks, getting set for their opener Tuesday night against Roosevelt County.

“The kids are having a great time,” American assistant coach Todd Kuykendall said. “It’s fun for these guys to get together. They’ve been playing hard all season. They’ve been playing against each other and so now they come together on one team, it’s been great.”

“It’s going to be awesome,” 11-year-old American All-Star Tucker Dobbs said. “We’re all good hitters and we’ve really got some good pitchers. We play every day and it’s really fun.”

Krystie Tindle, American All-Star Kordell Tindle’s mom, says this part of the baseball season brings her whole family together.

“This is what our summer is all about,” Tindle said. “It’s a lot of fun. We have a good group of parents.”

Like several first-year All-Star players, Roosevelt County’s 11-12 coach Rocky Banda is coaching his first batch of all-stars this summer.

“This is an honor for me,” Banda said. “We’ve got great kids this year. It’s a big honor for myself.

“It all starts when they sign up as little kids. It’s just an honor to be selected and to be out here with their friends and they play together. They’ve got their group and these guys come out here every night and they bust their tail and that’s really what it’s all about.”

One of Banda’s players, Jarret Faust, has been a regular in the all-star season, but says it’s always a special honor.

“It’s pretty exciting to be on the All-Star team, just to play,” Faust said. “There’s other kids at home who aren’t able to play right now, so it’s nice to be able to play after the (regular) season is over.”

Banda’s band begins their tourney Tuesday against Quay County.

“It gives them a lot of excitement (to be an All-Star),” Banda said. “It’s about playing ball and that’s why they’re here.”

The players admit they’re anxious to get going.

“You can only practice so long,” Kuykendall said. “No matter whether you’re ready or not, it’s time to get out there and start playing.”