Baseball and Softball Tournaments

Photo by Todd Fuqua Lincoln County Regulator Trenton Hall pitches, May 28, during his team’s game against Akadema EPT in the King of the Mountain tournament at White Mountain Athletic Complex.

Tournaments: Take Me Out to the Ball Game in Ruidoso

Starting late Friday night at Eagle Creek Complex on the way to Alto – and lasting non-stop until Sunday afternoon – Ruidoso will play host to another of the many softball and baseball tournaments that have become a fixture of the recreation landscape of Lincoln County in the summer.

The Cool Pines slow pitch tournament, featuring four divisions for men and women, is one of four slow-pitch tournaments held at Eagle Creek each summer, and the economic impact is significant, according to tournament organizer Billy Page.

“This is our largest tournament, with about 65 teams,” Page said. “On average, that’s about 15 players per team, and then their family.” Assuming each team has about 20 family members making the trek up the mountain for this weekend, that works out to almost 2,300 people coming to Ruidoso. That’s 2,300 that will stay in hotels and cabins, eat in restaurants and shop in stores.

And this is just one tournament.

Counting the Queen of the Mountain youth fast-pitch tournaments, and the two youth baseball tournaments held in Ruidoso each year, there’s hardly a weekend in the area when there isn’t a huge influx of players and fans.

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Photo by Todd Fuqua Danger second baseman Tyler Perrin, left, throws the ball to first base after retiring Bandito Robert Coronado during a King of the Mountain Tournament at Eagle Creek Complex.

True, Ruidoso Downs racetrack still commands the largest number of visitors to the area, but it’s impossible to deny the impact of the USSSA. That’s the United States Specialty Sports Association, by the way, the governing body that organizes these events.

Probably the biggest tournament each year is the King of the Mountain, which brings in 140 baseball teams in age groups from 7 to 14, playing on fields all over the county, even into Capitan.

Vic Falvey, state director for USSSA baseball in El Paso, has coordinated the tournament for seven years. There’s plenty of visitors to the area, but he’s been trying to get more local involvement.

“We’ve been trying to cultivate it,” Falvey said. “The teams are starting to get a little bit more active. We do tournaments in the (Texas) panhandle, all over New Mexico and Texas all the way down to San Antonio.

“This is by far our biggest event,” he added. “It’s good because it brings the entire region together.”

There’s plenty of local representation in this weekend’s Cool Pines as well, with eight teams taking the diamond in three divisions.

Page and his wife, Patsy, have been involved in organizing the tournaments since 1992, when Patsy worked for the Ruidoso Parks and Recreation department and helped start and name them all. Since then, Page Sports Promotions have taken on administrative duties for these tournaments, and the Pages are co-directors for the USSSA. In fact, they’ve worked so long and hard on this, they were inducted into the USSSA Hall of Fame in 2009.

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Photo by Todd Fuqua Mescalero Homeboy pitcher Garrett Saenz delivers during a game against the Buzzards in a King of the Mountain tournament at Eagle Creek Complex. The Homeboys are one of several teams that will play in this weekend’s Cool Pines Classic.

Both Falvey and Page acknowledge these tournaments wouldn’t be nearly as popular or successful if it weren’t for the efforts of the Parks and Rec department, maintaining – and sometimes outright building from scratch – every field used.

“Their staff does a phenomenal job,” Falvey said. “They should get as much kudos for this as anybody else. They work very hard and are very proud of what they do and keep those fields in great shape.”

“These tournaments run straight through, depending on the rain,” Page said. “The village crews do an outstanding job of upkeep on the fields.”

Tournaments remaining for the year are the King and Queen of the Mountain tournament July 8-10 – another big one – Last Chance Qualifier July 15-17, the co-ed Mountain Double Up Aug. 13-14 and the USSSA baseball Fall Brawl in October.

—Todd Fuqua

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