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Lions Hondo get heroes sendoff

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Tyrell Curtis, who is the new baseball coach at Roswell High School (left) and Tommy Jordan (third from right) pose with the Lions Hondo Little All-Stars before their trip to Albuquerque to play in the regionals today. Jordan was a member of the 1956 Lions Hondo team that won the 1956 Little League World Series. (J.T. Keith Photo)

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There is something special about this year’s Lions Hondo team. The best part of the team is they’re All-Stars. None of the other teams’ pitchers can pitch around any one hitter in Hondo’s lineup to get to a weaker hitter because everyone that goes to the plate can hit the ball out of the park.

As the team took batting practice and had their last practice before heading to Albuquerque, the Lions Hondo was sent off in style with a tailgate party and pizza, as fans, parents and well-wishers mingled and encouraged the team.

Roswell’s new baseball coach Tyrell Curtis was on hand to give the team some encouraging words and to let them know he had been watching them and was a fan of theirs as well as his son. Curtis said he looked forward to getting to know them and watch them grow as players.

“I’ve been keeping up with you guys,” Curtis said. “My youngest one (son) plays here at Lions Hondo. What he sees is that he looks up to you guys and he wants you to do well. You guys are literally the stepping stone to Roswell High and what’s going to happen in the future. The more you guys play together, the better everyone gets in the future. I wish you luck, it’s been a long time since a Roswell team has made it to the regionals. It’s been about 10 years.”

Another special guest to see the Lions off was 1956 Little League champion Tommy Jordan, who told the boys that he liked Albuquerque teams about as much as he liked Goddard and believed they could win the tournament. He told them they could achieve anything they set their minds to and all of Roswell would be watching them.

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“Don’t sell yourself short,” Jordan said. “Players from Lions Hondo right here won the Little League World Series. I know you will make Roswell proud and I’ll be rooting for you boys up there.”

A few of the players spoke with RDR Sports about the opportunity to play for the regionals.

Bryce Sanchez, who plays third base, felt excited about the opportunity to play tonight. His best memory was hitting a two-run homer against Artesia in district play to give them a 6-4 lead.

Ross Stokes will be on the bump tomorrow against Silver City and feels nervous.

Stokes is used to pitching in pressure situations for Lions Hondo in the tournament. He came in to close the game out in the district championship. Stokes throws a fastball and a circle changeup. His out pitch is the circle changeup that he can throw for strikes on any count.

“I threw the last pitch for the win in districts,” Stokes said. “That was pretty cool. I also pitched the last out in sectionals. I can throw my circle changeup inside and outside. I’m excited and nervous about today.”

Hector Salvarrey says his biggest memory of the tournament so far is hitting a triple against Artesia to tie the score.

“I’m nervous,” Salvarrey said. “I think we can beat them, though.”

Noah Lynn has been out for the tournament injuring his hamstring but expects to see action this weekend. Lynn has been taking batting practice while injured.

“I’m a little worried about my performance in the game,” Noah Lynn said.

Eli Lynn plays right or left field. When he is at the plate, he is a singles hitter.

“Always be confident,” Eli Lynn said.

The Lions Hondo team is managed by Kyle Stokes and coaches Mel Licon and Sylvester Lomeli.

Players are Xai Carrasco; Jacob Palomino; Savino Sanchez; Hector Salvarrey; Bryce Sanchez; Ross Stokes; Sylvester Lomeli; Isaac Loya; Eli Lynn, Noah Lynn; Richard Gonzales and Abraham Toscano.

Lions Hondo will play at 8 p.m., tonight in Albuquerque against Silver City.