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A Valencia County Outlaws player delivers a pitch during a game at the Los Lunas Wood Bat Classic presented by Marucci.

Los Lunas —The village of Los Lunas hosted its inaugural Los Lunas Wood Bat Classic last weekend, as 25 teams took to the field at the Enchantment Little League Complex and Daniel Fernandez Memorial Park. 

The event was sponsored by Marucci and sanctioned through the United States Specialty Sports Association. Marucci, a company based in Baton Rouge, La, that makes baseball and softball equipment. The company provided each team that participated in the tournament with three wood bats to use during play, as well as discounts on merchandise that was for sale.

The tournament has been a long time in the making, and the village has pondered the idea for years, according to Marcos Castillo, who is the recreation supervisor for Los Lunas.

The tournament wasn’t put into action until Castillo was approached by Cliff DeGraaf, who runs the Valencia County Outlaws club baseball program.

“We were lucky enough to be able to get a national sponsor with Marucci Sports,” Castillo said. “That immediately adds legitimacy to our event.”

Marucci sponsors tournaments across the country every summer, as mobile tour director John Thompkins put it, “Anywhere it is warm enough for baseball to be played, we want to be there.”

They attend far more than 52 tournaments every year, sometimes as many as six in a single weekend. He likes the wood bat tournament because it changes the game a little bit from the strategy with metal bats.

Teams with defense and pitching strengths fare better because the ball doesn’t come off the bat nearly as fast, shortening the distance traveled and giving players more time to react to the ball coming their way. Traditionally, metal bats are used in Little League all the way up through college baseball.

The tournament also gave the Valencia County club teams a chance to play at home, instead of having to travel every weekend. Something that was a major factor for Castillo.

“We have a very strong club baseball group here, but the kids never play at home,” he said. “Even during the league, they have to travel to Rio Rancho to play every weekend.

“We’ve wanted to host here for quite some time but it’s hard to get the Albuquerque teams to come down here. That was one of our main goals, letting our Valencia County kids play at home for a tournament.”

Teams from all across New Mexico came to take part, with Gallup, Las Cruces and Aztec all represented in addition to Valencia County, Albuquerque and Rio Rancho.

The village is planning to put on another tournament in February, in addition to one towards the end of next summer. There will also be a softball tournament that will go along with it.

Plans are in place to make the tournament an annual event and to let it grow as the years go on. Castillo said he was very happy with the turnout for the tournament, given that it was the inaugural one and has only been on the calendar for about six months. Often times, schedules fill out well in advance of that.

The event allows the recreation department to showcase Los Lunas and Valencia County to people from all over the state who otherwise might not visit the area.

Thompkins said he was impressed by both the facility and the town, and everyone had welcomed the Marucci team with open arms. He said he is looking forward to returning to the area again in February for the next tournament, as well as the weather being a little bit cooler.

The Outlaws fared will in their first hometown tournament, with the U12 Red team placing first, and the U11 and U10 teams placing second in their respective divisions.

The village of Los Lunas hosted its inaugural Los Lunas Wood Bat Classic last weekend, as 25 teams took to the field at the Enchantment Little League Complex and Daniel Fernandez Memorial Park.

The event was sponsored by Marucci and sanctioned through the United States Specialty Sports Association. Marucci, a company based in Baton Rouge, La, that makes baseball and softball equipment. The company provided each team that participated in the tournament with three wood bats to use during play, as well as discounts on merchandise that was for sale.

The tournament has been a long time in the making, and the village has pondered the idea for years, according to Marcos Castillo, who is the recreation supervisor for Los Lunas.

The tournament wasn’t put into action until Castillo was approached by Cliff DeGraaf, who runs the Valencia County Outlaws club baseball program.

“We were lucky enough to be able to get a national sponsor with Marucci Sports,” Castillo said. “That immediately adds legitimacy to our event.”

Marucci sponsors tournaments across the country every summer, as mobile tour director John Thompkins put it, “Anywhere it is warm enough for baseball to be played, we want to be there.”

They attend far more than 52 tournaments every year, sometimes as many as six in a single weekend. He likes the wood bat tournament because it changes the game a little bit from the strategy with metal bats.

Teams with defense and pitching strengths fare better because the ball doesn’t come off the bat nearly as fast, shortening the distance traveled and giving players more time to react to the ball coming their way. Traditionally, metal bats are used in Little League all the way up through college baseball.

The tournament also gave the Valencia County club teams a chance to play at home, instead of having to travel every weekend. Something that was a major factor for Castillo.

“We have a very strong club baseball group here, but the kids never play at home,” he said. “Even during the league, they have to travel to Rio Rancho to play every weekend.

“We’ve wanted to host here for quite some time but it’s hard to get the Albuquerque teams to come down here. That was one of our main goals, letting our Valencia County kids play at home for a tournament.”

Teams from all across New Mexico came to take part, with Gallup, Las Cruces and Aztec all represented in addition to Valencia County, Albuquerque and Rio Rancho.

The village is planning to put on another tournament in February, in addition to one towards the end of next summer. There will also be a softball tournament that will go along with it.

Plans are in place to make the tournament an annual event and to let it grow as the years go on. Castillo said he was very happy with the turnout for the tournament, given that it was the inaugural one and has only been on the calendar for about six months. Often times, schedules fill out well in advance of that.

The event allows the recreation department to showcase Los Lunas and Valencia County to people from all over the state who otherwise might not visit the area.

Thompkins said he was impressed by both the facility and the town, and everyone had welcomed the Marucci team with open arms. He said he is looking forward to returning to the area again in February for the next tournament, as well as the weather being a little bit cooler.

The Outlaws fared will in their first hometown tournament, with the U12 Red team placing first, and the U11 and U10 teams placing second in their respective divisions.

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