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National softball tournament brings teams to Yuma
With 35 teams competing in the 2012 Amateur Softball Association Men’s 12-inch Softball Class D Western National Championship at Kennedy Park this weekend — including 21 from out of the area — at least one Yuma team has positioned itself nicely coming into the final day.
Sun Valley Beverage-Bud Light held off a seventh inning rally by Elite Empire Sports (Chino Hills, Calif.) and won 7-5 Saturday night. Alan Cuen went 3 for 3 with a pair of home runs in the win for Sun Valley Beverage, which plays today at 8 a.m.
“Yesterday I played the role of just getting on base. We have a lot of guys who can hit home runs. The first one was just to get us on the board,” Cuen said. “Every time I’m up to bat, I just try to hit the ball hard. If it goes, it goes; if it doesn’t, well, at least it is a hit.”
Cuen hit a solo home run in the bottom of the second to get on the board. In the top of the third, with runners on second and third with two out for Elite Empire Sports, a ball was sliced down the left field line and Sun Valley Beverage left fielder Mark Wright made a diving catch to save a pair of runs.
“You have to make that catch, man,” Wright said. According to Wright, while the normal slow-pitch softball league may be light-hearted, it’s a different story now. “Not at nationals. Leagues, yeah. Not so much here. There’s only 35 teams so it’s a big deal here.”
Sub Valley Beverage added another run in the third before Mike Rizzo of Elite Empire Sports made a diving catch in the deep left-center alley to rob another run. Cuen helped add two more runs in the fourth inning on a 2-run home run to left field.
Elite Empire Sports cut the deficit to one by scoring three in the top of the fifth and Sun Valley Beverage pitcher Joe Covarrubias admits that the pressure is heavier in the nationals.
“The stakes are higher and you play different teams you don’t play against usually,” said Covarrubias, who pitched the entire game.
However, his teammates gave him some help in the bottom of the sixth when Joe Twame hit a 2-run double to right field and Jeron Boemer hit a sacrifice fly to put Sun Valley Beverage up 7-3.
“It’s a cushion. So when you pitch, you aren’t thinking how one swing wins it or one swing ties it. The pressure is on them,” Covarrubias said.
Elite Empire Sports actually got it to where one swing would have taken the lead, scoring two runs in the seventh and with runners on first and third, Covarrubias forced a comeback line drive to end the game.
The double-elimination tournament finishes up today and the winner of the championship at 8:50 p.m. will head to Oklahoma City for the National Championships. But with teams from all over coming to town, the big winner from the tournament will be the city of Yuma.
“It’s better for the city of Yuma because now we’re recognized as a big softball city, so teams will come from out of town,” Cuen said.
“We try and get people into our hotels and put heads on beds and show what Yuma has to offer and hopefully they come back,” tournament director Adam Christensen said.
Jesse Severson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 539-6881. Find him on Facebook at facebook.com/YSJesseSeverson