The District V Little League All-Star Tournament gets underway Friday and Saturday for most teams from Valencia County’s three Little League’s Belen, Enchantment and Yucca. The tournament will separate the pretenders from the contenders, vying for district championships and berths in the state playoffs.

Last year, Enchantment Little League of Los Lunas produced the District V and eventual state champion junior division softball team. The girls from Los Lunas went on to represent the state of New Mexico in the division regional playoffs in Las Vegas, Nev., where they lost in the finals to Arizona.

Many of the same girls are back, and the team should be a strong contender in this year’s tournament. And Enchantment may have another solid shot to win the major division.

“We’re going to take first. I’m pretty confident,” said Zack Sedillo, coach of Enchantment’s major division All-Stars. “We’ve seen the teams we’ll be playing throughout the year, we’ve seen their talent. I feel we have the strongest pitching and defense, and, even in softball, that is the key to winning championships.”

Sedillo has reason to be confident. His team won the “Tournament of Champions,” a tournament for league champions from around the state.

After finishing the regular season 14-3, Sedillo’s team, Enchantment Pride, beat three Albuquerque Little League teams en route to the tournament title. The Pride was dominant, outscoring its opponents 43-2.

Behind strong pitching from Michelle Archuleta, the Pride shut out a team from Albuquerque’s Thunderbird Little League, 14-0, for an easy win in the tournament opener.

But for the second game, Enchantment was paired against the South Valley Thunder a team that handed them two of their three losses this year.

“We came out ready, and we jumped on them,” Sedillo said. Adri Gabaldon pitched a complete game and hit a grand slam to lead the Pride to a 14-1 victory. Other hitting stars in the game were Heather Kline and Gabby Vallejos, the coach said.

Enchantment met the Westgate Diamondbacks in the championship game and came through with a 5-1 win. Amy Sedillo went the distance to earn the win from the mound. A hitting highlight was Celsie Misa’s “bunt homer” that provided the Pride with all the runs they would need.

“Our sticks really came through, our defense was tough and our pitching was solid,” coach Sedillo said, “So we ended up with the banner.”

The Pride hopes to collect another banner in the All-Star tournament. The Pride is Enchantment’s only major division team this year, so all the players on the team are automatically All-Stars.

Sedillo said he thinks that will only help their chances to win the District V tournament. “I really think that it could be an advantage for us because the girls have been together for the entire year and they’re starting to gel. They’re coming together as a team,” he said.

The team will open the tournament at 9 a.m. on Saturday against Mile High at Albuquerque’s Zia Little League fields.

While most of the county’s Little League All-Stars will travel to the Duke City to play their games, some of the littlest leaguers will be staying closer to home. Belen Little League is hosting one bracket of the 9-10 division tournament.

On Saturday, Enchantment 2 will meet Atrisco 2 at 9 a.m. At noon, Belen 2 will entertain South Valley 2.

Yucca Little League of Bosque Farms won’t play its first game until Monday. Yucca awaits the winner of a game between Thunderbird 2 and Westgate 2.

Belen and Enchantment also have additional entries in the 9-10 division. Those teams will play games at Zia.

For the schedule of first-round games for all of Belen, Enchantment and Yucca teams, see Scoreboard on page 3B.

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