Southwest Junior Little League Regional at St. Michael’s is comprised of a field of six teams. Thursday morning’s 9:30 first pitch matches New Mexico state champion Shorthorn from Carlsbad against Texas West, with Texas East following versus Louisiana at noon
By ARNIE LESHIN, Santa Fe Today
If Brady Tucker had his choice, he’s rather be in Easley, S.C. than in Santa Fe in the upcoming days. So would his mother.
But when the Shorthorn Senior Little League baseball team, one win away from reaching the International World Series in Easley, dropped back-to-back games to Texas East in the Regional finals played in Seguin, Tex., Brady was now going to join his dad, manager Tony Tucker, his mom, and younger brother Garret, as they travel the 4 ½ hours to Santa Fe for the Junior Little League Regional at St. Michael’s High School.
That starts Thursday morning, with the winning team advancing to that International World Series in Taylor, Mich., where it has been held since the juniors began in 1981.
“Yes, Brady was very disappointed,” says his mom, Shelly. “They had beaten Texas East before, were unbeaten, but lost twice, 6-5 and 2-0 this time. If the seniors won, I was heading for Easley, S.C.”
Of course, so was Brady. So was Junior Little League player Jacob Echavarria’s father, the manager of the senior team.
Thus, Shorthorn LL of Carlsbad, instead of possibly having two teams gain the World Series, now joins Albuquerque Eastdale, which is in the (Majors) Little League Regional at Waco, Tex., as well as juniors host Santa Fe Monsters, as the remaining teams from the Land of Enchantment.
Tony Tucker now had to focus on his own team, and he has capable coaches in James Bracher and Tim Perry, both remembered as star players from Carlsbad.
“They were good, really good, Shelly Tucker says, “and it’s good to have them as coaches.”
As for softball, there are no New Mexico teams still in play. The juniors from state-champion Clovis American and host Westgate lost in the Southwest Region in Isleta Pueblo, N.M., and the state-champion Los Alamos County team lost in the seniors played in Vidalia, Louisiana, as Texas West and Vidalia moved on to the respective International World Series.
At St. Michael’s, Shorthorn will play the 9:30 Thursday morning opener against Texas West of the Abilene LL. The winner lines up the next day, same starting time, against the host Santa Fe team, which won District 1 and then had a long layoff from July 8th until now. It is managed by Mark Quintana, and he says it’s been a long time since they played a regular game.
“Yes, it’s been tough,” he says. “We’ve been practicing, keeping our focus on the Regional, and hoping to have good fan support.”
One Santa Fe player, pitcher-infielder Dominic Arillino, will only be available Friday. He was named to the Southwest USA Team and will be playing in a tournament in Orlando, Fla.
From Texas East will be Houston’s West University LL, and it plays in game two Thursday at noon against the Louisiana team from the Bogalusa LL. Colorado, from the High Plains LL, also drew a bye and will face the winner of that game on Friday at noon.
Play will continue Saturday, Sunday and Monday, with the championship contest scheduled for Tuesday at noon.