The precocious teenager has it down. Avery Chavez wants to be the best and challenge herself. Her father, Derrick, has the position all staked out for her: catcher and third base, his old positions. Derrick played at New Mexico Military Institute in 1996 for Dale Smith.
There are many practices where he has honed her skills as a softball player. There’s travel ball and recently, there was time for Avery to show off what she had learned from her dad, and her travel team coaches, Gilbert Lucero and Roger Daniel.
The eighth-grade Berrendo student has dreams of making varsity softball at Goddard. Avery is off to a good start — during the summer she has shown off how elite she is. Avery has been raised and taught the basics of the game, where repetition, preparation and catching drills have given her the solid fundamentals of softball.
“She’s an incredible blocker,” her dad, Derrick Chavez said. “She moves really well, left and right. She is shifty and has a quick release. At the tryout, Avery had a two-second pop time.”
Avery, 13, recently competed and was chosen for the United States Specialty Sports Association All-American Futures team. The tryout was in Hobbs, in late May. The age range was between 9U and under to 14U.
With some 200 girls from the midwest region vying for 13 roster spots, the midwest region consisted of Oklahoma, Texas and New Mexico. USSSA had 20 tryouts throughout the nation after being divided into eight regions. The last three coming in Dallas, Oklahoma City and the final one in Hobbs.
“I knew Avery was a good ballplayer,” Derrick Chavez said. “I just wanted to get a barometer for where she ranked nationally.”
There were anxious moments before Avery tried out. Derrick told her to do her best and that’s what she did. Avery was tested in her release to second base, hitting, throwing velocity and laser timing for speed and her sprinting. She was timed in the 20-yard and 40-yard dash. She was also tested for her arm velocity, exit velocity of the bat and fielding. Avery had to pick a primary position and secondary position. When she hit, Avery got eight live pitches.
Avery’s primary position was a catcher and her secondary position was third base. At the third base, the scouts hit several balls to both the left and right side and then she was judged on her throwing accuracy and velocity.
After the tryouts, there were no results posted. USSSA had a selection show two weeks later, with the names of the girls that made the All-Star team from each region.
Avery was nervous while watching, 13U Midwest American was announced, but her name wasn’t announced. Derrick told her not to worry about it and that she did a good job. Before they logged off the website, they switched over to the 13U Nationals and her name popped up.
“I was shocked,” her mother Alisha Chavez said, “it was one of her first tryouts. I wanted to see where she would score with other girls her age. There was no pressure for her to make it. We wanted her to do her best, we didn’t expect her to make it. I was excited when she made it, we’re really proud of her.”
Avery will play on one of the 88 teams in the tournament from 9 years old to 14 years old. She will arrive in Florida today at the USSSA Space Coast Complex — a new $50 million facility in Viera, Florida. It has 15 turf fields. While there, Avery and her teammates will get to see the USSSA Pride, a professional softball team, play against a team from Beijing, China.
Also, Avery’s team will play four pool games and then be seeded in the tournament.
Avery plays for Empire, a travel softball team in the fall, coached by Lucero. She also plays for the Foxes, coached by Daniel. Her talent has allowed her to be picked up by Las Cruces Fire and a Ruidoso softball travel team, as well.
While playing in the All-Stars this week, Avery wants to be one of the best 30 players chosen. If she makes it, she will be invited to a camp where major college coaches will be there to look at her.
“I’m more excited to play than nervous,” Avery said. “Next year, my goal is to make the select 30.”
Avery plays and practices three days a week and loves softball. She works on her hitting, fielding and tries to work on spraying the ball when she is at the plate. She has not learned to slap the ball yet, but will one day because of her speed. Normally a leadoff hitter, Avery uses an open stance at the plate and adjusts her stance, depending on the pitcher.
Her favorite softball team is the University of Florida. Avery hopes to one day play for them. One of the things Avery is working on is hitting an outside pitch. She wants to get a stronger arm as a catcher. Avery plays basketball and runs track and feels like playing other sports helps her stay in shape and get faster.
When she is done playing softball, Avery would like to go to school for nursing and be a coach.
“It means a lot to have my mom and dad at every game,” Avery said. “I wouldn’t be here without my dad helping me.”
Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or email@example.com.