April Abeyta went to a softball tournament in Phoenix, Ariz. just to watch. But when she was at the tournament earlier this spring, she hit in batting practice with the mens team she was watching.
A women’s team was practicing next to them, and a team coach saw Abeyta and was impressed. They spoke and got in touch, and Abeyta joined the team. By July, Abeyta was playing tournaments with the team.
Abeyta, from Ohkay Owingeh, recently played with the softball team Infamous at the United States Specialty Sports Association World Series in Florida.
“Anybody that knows me, since I was a kid, I’ve always had a competitive drive,” Abeyta said. “I always want to compete at the highest level. I’ve never shied away from competition. I knew that if I was ever given the opportunity to play at this level I would take it and run with it, and keep working so that I could stay there.”
Abeyta began playing baseball when she was 5 years old, playing little league in Española. She switched to fastpitch softball a few years later, and played softball in high school at Santa Fe Indian School as a pitcher.
After college, Abeyta got into slowpitch softball, playing with friends in lower-level leagues in Albuquerque for a few years. From there, she ultimately found her way to the higher-level teams.
The Infamous team is based out of Denver, Colo. and Abeyta said players come from as far as Georgia, California and Ohio.
In September and October, the team played in back-to-back national tournaments in Viera, Fla. at the Space Coast Complex that hosts professional fastpitch softball games.
“Being able to play inside the stadium, we had a night game also,” Abeyta said. “The bright lights, all the cameras everywhere, it was pretty exciting.”
The first tournament was the B-level World Series. Slowpitch softball teams have categories E, D, C, B, A and Major. Abeyta said New Mexico teams do not go higher than C, and Northern New Mexico is mostly E and D.
At that first tournament, Abeyta’s team finished in third place, winning twice and then losing to the top two teams. Abeyta was named to the all-tournament team for her performance playing outfield.
Immediately after, Infamous competed in the Major world series. They beat one A-class team but then lost twice and were eliminated.
“We know we can compete with some of these teams,” Abeyta said. “We played them all year long, and most of our games are one-run games, two-run games. But just being able to compete at that level and get a win, it was pretty exciting.”