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Daily Newspaper and Travel Guide
for Pecos Country of West Texas


Tuesday, February 16, 1999

More experienced Eagles open softball play

Staff Writer
PECOS, Feb. 16 -- Year Two for the Pecos Eagles' softball
program gets underway this afternoon at Martinez Field with
a 4 p.m. game against the Kermit Yellowjackets.

The Eagles and Jackets will play the varsity game first,
followed by the JV contest, as Pecos looks to get a victory
over the only team they defeated in their inaugural season.

"They've improved somewhat. Our pitchers look a lot better
than last year," coach Tammy Walls said of her team, which
basically had to start from scratch in 1998. Pecos' pitchers
had to learn the underhand delivery style as they went along
last season, and many other players had to figure out the
rules on hitting, baserunning and playing defense as the
year progressed.

"As opposed to last year, we started out with 18 girls and
only six of them had ever been exposed to softball," she
said. "This year, every one of the girls who will be
starting played summer league softball and that helped a
lot, so we're starting off on a better foot that last year."

The Eagles will actually have an even younger starting
lineup this season than they did a year ago, made up of
mostly sophomores and freshmen. Alexa Marquez, who pitched
most of the Eagles' District 4-4A games last season as a
freshman, will start today against Kermit, while junior
Katrina Quiroz, the team's leading hitter last season, will
be at shortstop.

Walls said Amy Chabarria, Laura Archuleta and Valerie
Gonzales will be at first, second and third base. In the
outfield, center fielder Lily Payen will be joined by two
freshmen, Mireya Medrano and Kathy Maldonado, while
assistant coach Becky Wein's daughter, Rebecca, will start
at catcher, "so that's three freshmen starting," Walls said.

Pecos scrimmaged Kermit last week on the Yellowjackets' home
field, and Walls said, "We hit the ball well. We made
contact a lot better than we did last year."

Pecos got their only win last year against Kermit by a 10-9
score in consolation play at the Midland Invitational,
though the Jackets came back to beat the Eagles two weeks
later by a 13-0 score. Today's game is the first of two at
home this week for Pecos, which will host Lamesa on Friday

Golfers place 5th, 19th, at Big Spring

PECOS, Feb. 16 -- The Pecos Eagles got off to a cold start
as usual at this past weekend's Big Spring Invitational golf
tournament. But for the girls at least, that was because the
temperature at tee-off time was 22 degrees.

As far as the results go, the Eagles had their second
straight fifth place finish, while Pecos' boys didn't fare
as well in their first tournament of the season, placing
19th in the two-day tournament.

"I was real proud of the girls. They're all working real
hard," said coach Tina Hendrick of her team, which finished
first on Monday out of five other teams in a smaller
tournament at Alpine.

The Eagles' 373-359-732 total at Big Spring trailed only
Amarillo Tascosa (671), Abilene High (690), San Angelo
Central (707) and Lamesa (720) in the 21-team field and was
two shots ahead of former district rival Monahans. However,
Hendrick did point out that Andrews and Snyder, two of the
teams that placed ahead of Pecos in San Angelo, sent only
their `B' teams to Big Spring. "But I think all the other
teams were `As,'" she added.

Hendrick said while the tournament again was played in cold
weather, frozen greens didn't delay the start of play for
the first time in several years.

Individually, Sarah Armstrong placed fifth, with an
82-86-168 score, while Alva Alvarez was ninth, shooting an
88-84-172. Cassie Foster had a 100-92-192, Salem Mitchell
shot a 103-97-200 and Candace Roach shot a 114-99-213,
Hendrick said.

On Monday, Alvarez won medalist with a round of 88, as
Pecos took first in Alpine with a 374 score, 25 shots ahead
of the host Bucks. Mitchell shot a 91, Roach a 97, Amanda
Stickels a 98 and Courtney Clark a 116 for the 18-hole

"Alva also won longest drive, and Salem won for closest to
the pin," said Hendrick, who'll take her JV team to Andrews
on Thursday.

The boys 19th place came out of 27 teams, as they shot a
345-337-682 in their first action of the season. Lubbock
Coronado won the tournament with a 612 score, followed by
Midland Lee at 624.

"I expected a little better results, but it was our first
tournament of the year and when we started play it was
extremely cold," said new PHS boys golf coach Jason Hewitt.

Individually, Casey Love, Lee Lyles and Michael Baca were
bunched together for Pecos, with Love shooting an 86-81-167,
Lyles an 86-83-169 and Baca a 87-83-170. John Granado was
six strokes behind at 176 with rounds of 86 and 90 while
Jason Salcido shot an 88-93-181.

Sweetwater had the best round among Class 4A schools, with
a 315-320-635, followed by the host Steers at 313-323-636.
None of the Eagles new District 2-4A rivals participated in
the Big Spring tournament.

Fort Stockton, which shot a 340-321-661 to finish 11th
overall, will host the boys in a dual meet on Wednesday,
Hewitt said. The Eagles next full tournament will be Feb.
26-27 in Midland, while the girls go to Fort Stockton for
their next varsity tournament that same weekend.

Area players in doubleheader

PECOS, Feb. 16 -- It's a two-for-one night at the Pecos High
School gym tonight, with the Pecos Eagle boys wrapping up
their 1998-99 basketball season by hosting the Canutillo
Eagles, followed by the Balmorhea Bears girls, in a Class A
bi-district round playoff game against the Wink Wildcats.

The two Eagle teams will meet at 6 p.m. at the PHS gym, in a
game moved up 90 minutes from its normal start. Balmorhea
and Wink will follow with their playoff game, about 20
minutes after the end of the boys' contest.

The Eagles' playoff chances began going down when they
dropped a 54-37 decision at Canutillo last month. Pecos was
within a point midway through the second quarter, but scored
just 17 points over the final 20 minutes of the game.
Fernando Navarette had 20 points in the losing effort, while
Chris Grant led a balanced attack for Canutillo with 14.

The Eagles have lost five straight games, but have played
better in their last two, losing at El Paso Mountain View on
Friday, 46-45 when Navarette's last second jump shot was
ruled to have come from inside the 3-point line. It left the
Eagles at 2-7 in District 2-4A and 10-18 overall.

"If we can win Tuesday, at least we'll have the consolation
of tying for fourth (with Canutillo)," said Eagles' coach
Mike Sadler.

Balmorhea's girls are back in the playoffs after for the
first time in three years, after going 4-2 in District 1-A
and finishing second to Dell City. But to win against Wink,
the District 2-A champion, the Bears will have to do a good
job inside against senior post Jess Ann Fernandes, who is
averaging about 17 points per game this season.

Utley takes small steps to recovery

AP Sports Writer
PHOENIX, Feb. 16 -- Mike Utley's legs buckled under him a
couple of times, and he had to be steadied by two friends.

Still, the wobbly steps that Utley took Monday represented
an emotional triumph after seven years of unfailing optimism
and exhausting physical therapy in the face of overwhelming

On Nov. 17, 1991, Utley, a third-year offensive lineman for
the Detroit Lions, was paralyzed with two crushed vertebrae,
a horrifying injury suffered in a game against the Rams.

Since then, he has vowed to someday walk off the Silverdome
turf in Pontiac, Mich., from the exact spot where he was

On Monday, he took his first public steps toward that goal.

``By standing up, you feel who you are,'' he said. ``I was
315 pounds and 6-foot-6. I was proud to be as big as I was.
I was proud to be as tall as I am. I want it back.''

Towering over everyone as he did so long ago, wearing a
Lions T-shirt, Utley slowly struggled down a wooden walkway,
painfully swinging one leg ahead, then the other.

Twice his legs gave way, and the two buddies on each side,
retired NFL center Bill Lewis and Lions linebacker Rob
Frederickson, had to catch him. Girlfriend Dani Andersen
helped by steadying the lower leg braces that kept his
ankles from rolling inward.

He made it 10 feet or so.

``It was awesome to see him up there,'' Lewis said.
``Yesterday when we rehearsed, I was practically in tears.
It's nothing short of miraculous.''

When he finished his news conference, just before he wheeled
out of the room, he gave a ``thumbs up'' sign to a boy
sitting on a man's shoulders in the back of the room.

The gesture has become his trademark, just as Utley has come
to symbolize grit, determination and optimism in the face of
grim odds.

Utley, 33, is paralyzed from the chest and elbows down. His
upper arms still are the bulging biceps of a football
lineman. But he has only partial control of his hands and
lower arms. About two years ago, he began to feel some
sensations in his legs. He can feel his toes, describing it
as the way you'd feel on an extremely cold day.

He began working with biofeedback, trying to identify the
connection between his brain and those few alive nerves in
his legs. He kept up daily, grueling physical therapy.

``Rehabilitation is a lifestyle,'' he said. ``It's not
something you just do.''

A major reason for his public display, and the pressure that
came with it, on Monday was his desire to raise more money
for his Mike Utley Foundation, dedicated research aimed at
finding a cure for spinal cord injuries.

Utley was quick to point out that no two spinal cord
injuries are the same.

``The one thing you can control is your mind,'' he said.
``I'm not saying everyone will get as far as I've gotten.
But they can do something today they didn't do yesterday.
Maybe they can go outside. Maybe they can wheel themselves
around the block, and maybe tomorrow they can do two

Utley credits his positive attitude for everything he has
accomplished, whether it was snow skiing, scuba diving,
driving his specially equipped van or taking those few

``I've taken a few more steps before, but I've never gone
this far,'' he said. ``I want to walk off that Silverdome,
and one day I will. It might not be tomorrow, but someday I
will. I guarantee it.''

Doctors, who once told him he'd never walk again, now look
on Utley as a great asset.

``It gives their new patients hope,'' Utley said. ``If you
take hope away, if you take dreams away, you lose them
forever. But it goes back to the person. If you're a
champion before you got hurt, you're a champion now. But you
have to work at it. You have to have goals. I will never be
number two, not today, not tomorrow, not ever. Why? Because
I believe in myself.''

He talked of going to hospitals to visit children stricken
by paralyzing injuries, seeing their family's in pain and
solidifying his determination to find a cure.

``I don't want to see moms and dads cry anymore,'' he said.

Before he rose for that moment on his feet, he explained why
he decided to take these steps publicly. He wanted to show
doctors, insurance companies and the health industry in
general that rehabilitation is a lifelong process, something
a seriously injured person needs to do until he dies.

And there was a more personal reason.

``I want to do it for my family and the people who have
given me support from the first day when I came off that
field and gave that thumbs up,'' he said, ``everyone in the
Detroit organization, the friends I've made since I've been
hurt. I will show them that I have never quit. I will never
quit until I am completely free of this spinal cord

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Pecos Enterprise
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324 S. Cedar St., Pecos, TX 79772
Phone 915-445-5475, FAX 915-445-4321

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