Whole Enchilada tourney plays round the clock
By Al Zipsie
LAS CRUCES, NM - USSSA director Bert "Fun" Frederick lived up to his name again, putting on the largest one weekend slowpitch tournament in the country.
The 2004 version of the USSSA "Whole Enchilada" drew a staggering 276 teams in just four divisions to the softball fields in Las Cruces October 1-3. Playing around the clock day and night, a total of 542 games were played.
When the dust cleared Sunday evening two of the champions came from Arizona, the Kongs (Yuma) in Men's D, the largest division with 145 teams, and Nacho Mamas (Phoenix) in Women's D. Don's Auto Extreme (Santa Fe) gave the host state a champion in the Women's B and the Brewers from El Paso, TX captured the Men's C crown.
The Nacho Mamas went unbeaten in seven outings taking the title in the 75 team "Whole Enchilada" Invitational Women's D bracket. The Nacho Mamas continue to have an impressive season on the tournament trail, winning the Arizona NSA D State Championship, placing fourth at the NSA D World in Las Vegas in September and now the latest honor of winning the Whole Enchilada. Their formula was simple, stay out of the crowded loser's bracket. The Nacho Mamas clicked off wins in their five tests and then defeated the third place NM Auto Wholesalers/SF Sports Image 14-7 in the winner's bracket final. Then came the encore of turning back the Chitakahs (Tucson) 13-3 in all Arizona finale.
"We have been together as a team for the second time now for eight years; we first played together many, many years ago in our teens in fastpitch," said Nacho Mamas coach Wanda Bruce. "We are all friends, we play for fun and nobody gives us a paycheck. We have no prima donnas; we don't trash talk or complain at the umpire. The team is based on personalities with most players over the age of forty. We had a younger team come up after the game and said it hurts; it is devastating to lose to older players. We said you have something to look forward to when you're older. We have a lot of mottos, like when playing a younger team, don't let them see you hurt."
"We let our fans pick (individual awards), Norma Gutirry was the MVP and Luann Rogers all tournament. We are not into individual honors much; we win as a team and lose as a team. This year we have been winning, on a roll with the USSSA D State title, a fourth at the D World and then winning this 75-team Whole Enchilada tournament was great. Each individual player received Worth bats for winning the championship," added Bruce.
The Chitakahs first loss came to NM Auto Wholesalers and they bounced back winning three straight including avenging the earlier loss eliminating NM Auto 10-9 to reach the final only to fall to the Nacho Mamas buzz-saw.
Unique to the "Whole Enchilada" Men's D tournament is the fact that the teams aren't put into separate brackets. All 145 teams do battle in a double elimination format for the championship, making winning that division even more prestigious.
The Kongs beat their chest to win the mammoth division with Texas teams finishing 2nd (Astros O the runner-up and Bourbon Blues Softball Club third) through 5th. The Kongs went undefeated with an 8-0 clean slate as they played nemesis to the Astros O. The Kongs won a 28-2 rout in the final of the winner's bracket and then thumped the Astros O again 14-3 in the title clash.
Don's Auto Extreme gave the host state it's only championship as they went a perfect 5-0 to claim the Women's B honors. Don's Auto was clicking on all cylinders as they dealt the runner-up Bring It (NM) both their losses, 15-5 in the winner's bracket unbeaten game and then they exploded for a 32-9 win for the encore in the championship game. El Paso Jazz placed third with Kaddywhompus (AZ) placing fourth.
The Brewers went 8-1 to claim the C title. They bounced back after a loss to the Albuquerque Rockets/Mizuno by winning six straight games including a win to send home the fourth place Nova's Prime Time (Tucson) 20-14. They snuck past the third place Tommy's Sundevils (NM) 11-10 before advancing after a forfeit from Checkmate/Bones/Easton who headed back to Arizona with second place. Checkmate won their first five games including a 20-11 victory over Tommy's Sundevils in the winner's bracket final before packing it in.