The 2011 Whole Enchilada Softball Tournament in Las Cruces, N.M. came to a close the evening of Oct. 9 after three days of intense slow-pitch softball.
This year’s tournament included over 200 teams, with five different brackets. The tournament included Men and Women’s C and D divisions, as well as the Men’s E division.The tournament was a non-qualifying tournament.
“It’s one of the largest tournaments,” USSSA director for New Mexico Bert Frederick said.
The weather was warm and the Southern N.M. desert skies were as clear as they could be. Las Cruces couldn’t have been more prepared to host this year’s tournament.
The tournament is not only popular with N.M. teams as it draws in different teams from around the region. Frederick said this year’s tournament included teams that came from Ariz., Calif., Colo., Nev., N.M., TX, and Wyo.
It is not only one of the biggest USSSA slow-pitch softball tournaments around, but a place for all the softball teams to get together and socilize.
“It’s probably the largest tailgate party around,” Frederick said.
The sound of beer bottles hitting the bottoms of trashcans was almost as common as the sound of softball’s hitting aluminum bats.
“It’s the Woodstock of softball,” said Danelle Fresquez as she was hanging out in the parking lot outside of Harty Field.
The tournament started on Oct. 7 and ran until Oct. 9. The tournament never saw a break as games were played 24 hours a day until all five champions were named.
Not only does the giant tailgate party like atmosphere draw teams in from around the region, the great competi¬tion and sportsmanship is a big reason for teams to come visit beautiful southern N.M.
“You can bring 200 teams in and nobody has any problems,” said Richard Palomino, who plays for You’re It Softball.
“It’s welcoming. Everybody is very friendly,” said Jennifer Stalter who played with Peaches out of Casa Grande, AZ.
Palomino, who has also played in tour¬naments in TX and NV loves the great competition the tournament draws.
“If you can win here, you played your ass off,” he said. “It’s my fourth year and we’ll be here every year.”
In the Men’s C class, F.T.P. out of Andrews, TX took home the first place trophy. F.T.P. went through the tourna¬ment undefeated winning five games to become champions of the Men’s C bracket, beating West Texas Mafia/WTX Tees who hailed from Odessa, TX, in the championship game.
“We came out as a team, and we stuck together as a team,” F.T.P. player Joe Bitolas said, while celebrating with teammates in the parking lot outside of Harty Field. “It’s just making our reputa¬tion.”
Gil’s AZ Heat out of Chandler, Ariz. took third place in the Men’s C division.
In the Men’s D division, Ya Estuvo out of Denver, Colo. took the first place prize going undefeated winning eight games in the tournament. Ya Estuvo took out Have a Clue SBC in the championship game. Have a Clue SBC also hailed from Denver, Colo.Smoke, out of Henderson, Colo. Took the third place prize in the Men’s D division.
In the Men’s E division, the Chicano Bulls out of Arlington, TX came out on top winning the championship game. The Chicano Bulls went undefeated throughout the tournament winning seven games. The Chicano Bulls defeated Team Boooom out of Corpus Christi, TX in the championship game. Mares Metals out of Greeley, Colo. Took third place in the Men’s E division.
The Golddiggers from Sunland Park, N.M took home the first place trophy in the Women’s C Division. The Golddiggers went undefeated in the tournament winning five games and defeating Las Cruces’ own Too Legit in the cham¬pionship game. ABQ Affliction from Albuquerque, N.M. came in third place.
The Peaches out of Casa Grande, Ariz. won the final championship of the entire tournament, defeating Bad Apples from Corpus Christi, TX in the Women’s D divi¬sion championship game. The Peaches went 6-1 throughout the tournament and had to beat Bad Apples twice to take home the top prize.
“We were kind of an underdog,” said Stalter, who was in the tournament for the second time.
Alyssa’s Angels, out of Albuquerque, N.M came in third place in the Women’s D bracket.
What started The Whole Enchilada tournament?
The Whole Enchilada Tournament did not start off as being one of the biggest USSA slow-pitch tournaments around. The tournament began in Las Cruces around 34 years ago.
“It started out as a memorial,” Frederick explained at Harty Field in Las Cruces with sounds of players and fans cheering in the background.
When the tournament started 34 years ago it was not nearly as big. For the first two years it was a memorial tourna¬ment, before the USSA decided to ask the tournament to join them.
The tournament was started off as a memorial for Jerry Gomez, who was a friend to Frederick that used to play softball with him. Gomez was killed after he was in a dune buggy accident. After the accident, the tournament was started by Frederick to help raise funds for Gomez’ wife who was pregnant at the time of her husband’s accident.
The first year of the Jerry Gomez Memorial Tournament only included 14 total teams.
“It built up to what we have today,” Frederick said.
Is The Whole Enchilada relocating?
For the past couple of years there have been rumors circulating about the Whole Enchilada Tournament leaving Las Cruces. Many have wondered how true this is and would not like to see the tournament leave it’s home of 34 years.
Frederick said that the City of Las Cruces started charging the tournament fees for almost everything involved with the tournament. The city previously let the tournament run for free. The city started charging fees for field rentals, lights, trash and portable toilets, totaling to about $10,000.
According to Frederick, cities like Phoenix, Denver, Midland, or Albuquerque would love to host the event. Even with other cities interested in hosting the tournament, Las Cruces seems to be the home for now and people would hate to see it go, espe¬cially the local teams from Las Cruces that play in the tournament.
“They don’t want to see it leave their state,” Frederick said. “The tournament is very solvent here.”
For now the tournament seems to be staying put in Las Cruces, but Frederick said that the offers are still on the table.
No matter where the tournament is played, it will surely be around and will continue to create an exciting atmo¬sphere for any team that wants to play ball.
“It’s just a great event with everyone involved. That’s why it’s called The Whole Enchilada,” Frederick said.