By Jens Gould
The Albuquerque Tribune
March 24, 2005
Varsity softball teams from around the state face off today in a tournament honoring former Rio Rancho softball player Kristin Griego.
The annual Kristin Griego Memorial Varsity Softball tournament provides an opportunity for some rare matchups as teams warm up for district play next week.
The finals are scheduled for 11 a.m. on Saturday at Rio Rancho High School.
Rio Rancho coach Paul Kohman, who coached Griego for four seasons, said the school renamed the tournament because Griego was a high caliber player who was well respected.
"She always gave to others and worked very hard," said Kohman.
Griego died of a diabetic seizure in November 2003.
The tournament features some of the state's best teams and promises to be competitive. "I think there could be some upsets this year," said Kohman, who also manages the tournament.
The bracket matches up teams who do not normally play each other in the regular season and allows teams to see styles of play from other districts.
"Besides coaching your own team, it's fun to watch other teams play," said Kohman. "We're all a little different in everything we do."
Coaches also use the tournament as an indicator of how teams might perform during the rest of the season.
Highland coach Ron Thomas said the tournament will help his team gear up for its first district game next week.
Farmington won last year's tournament with an extra-innings victory over Rio Rancho in the finals. The Scorpions went on to win the 4A State Championship.
Alamogordo enters the tournament as defending 5A State champions.
Kohman said one player to watch this weekend is Aztec's hard-throwing pitcher Cassidy Nee.
The tournament, formerly known as the Rio Rancho Invitational, is in its sixth year. It is open to teams of all classifications and does not draw brackets by seed.
Play begins at 11 a.m. on Thursday and continues until Saturday. All games will take place on four fields at Rio Rancho High School.
JENS ERIK GOULD
Jens Erik Gould is a political, business and entertainment writer and editor who has reported from a dozen countries for media outlets including The New York Times, National Public Radio and Bloomberg News.