Knights enjoying tourney

CNJ staff photo: Liliana Castillo Gilbert Salguero, coach of Gil’s Knights, shouts encouragement to his team from the dugout on Saturday during the Plateau Wireless Custom Classic at Guy Leeder Complex.

By Dave Wagner: CNJ sports writer

The Plateau Wireless Custom Classic is in its 25th year in Clovis, and Gilbert Salguero has been a fixture.

He’s missed only one.

“It’s fun,” said Salguero, a Texico police officer whose Gil’s Knights team won its first game in men’s Class D 19-3 on Saturday morning and is hoping to make a run for the championship. “I’ve had my Knights team since 1984.”

The Knights are one of 118 teams competing in the tournament, which includes three men’s and two women’s divisions. Play begin at 7 p.m. Friday on five fields at Guy Leeder Complex and was pretty much scheduled to run non-stop through championship games this afternoon.

The team competes in the Gold Division of the Clovis Softball Association’s Wednesday Night League. The Knights struggled through a winless first half in league play, but are 3-1 in the second half, Salguero said.

He noted that they are playing up a bit in league play, but believe they can compete in Class D-level competition.

While the team has a wide range in age for its players, a couple of the younger ones, including son Diego, have formed a team for the Class E division this weekend. Made up entirely of Clovis High students, Gilbert Salguero said the younger team — called the “Goon Squad” — has dedicated its tournament effort to the memory of Tyler Fontenot, a CHS golfer who died in a boating accident in late May.

A number of the older players have been with Gil’s Knights for several years.

“I’ve got five or six who have been playing with me for about six years,” said Salguero, 51, who mainly coaches the team. “I play if I have to, but I try to minimize that.”

Gilbert Holguin has been with Salguero for about 12 years. A native of Deming, he served with Salguero in the Clovis Police Department when he first came here.

Holguin now works for BNSF Railway, and also spends time as a Little League coach.

“I’ve been (playing) since ’84, when I moved here,” said Holguin, 45, a native of Deming. “I came from a fast-pitch league, but I’ve played for about every (slow-pitch) team here.”

Holguin, who pitches for the Knights, said in the past the team has played at the B or C level in tournaments.

“In the past two or three years, we’ve been in Class D,” he said. “Most of the Clovis teams play in Class D in tournaments.”