A trio of Payson athletes helped the Fountain Hills Falcons capture the grand championship of the Rim Country Senior Softball Championship Series contested over the course of three weekends this spring at Rumsey Park.
In the finale of the tournament series, played Saturday and Sunday, locals Billy Joe Winchester, Tom Neblett and Dave Crowell were starters on the Fountain Hills team that culminated an undefeated tournament run with a 22-16 win over the Phoenix Blasters.
That victory ensured the Falcons of the grand championship.
However, the team still needed to beat the Prescott Miners in a game played Sunday afternoon to win the third tournament title. Again, the Falcons emerged victorious with a 10-6 triumph.
Entering the tournament, the Falcons and Phoenix Apollo One were dead even in the quest for the grand championship. Each team had won an earlier senior tournament. However, Apollo One fell from contention during Sunday's double elimination fray, losing first to the Falcons and then to the Blasters.
With the victory in Payson, the Falcons -- and their contingent of local players -- will turn their attention to the Arizona State Class E championships that will be played in July in Prescott.
Next fall, the team will be participating in the Senior World Championships in Phoenix.
The Falcons qualified for the World games at a regional qualifier played earlier this spring.
Payson did not have a team entered in the Rim Country Senior Championships, but the local Grays team did play an exhibition game Saturday evening against the Sun City 65s, who feature former Payson resident Danny Martinez.
In the contest, the Grays rode strong defensive play from outfielders Corb Corbin and Ralph Bossert and infielders Ken Gouker and Ken Jackson to an 11-9 triumph.
The Grays also featured a potent offense led by Walt Knasick and Bill Youngs. Both were a perfect three-for-three at the plate. The battery unit of pitcher Neil McVicar and catcher Jack Koon helped keep the normally high-powered Sun City offense in check.
The Grays are currently participating in the Phoenix Senior League and will play again on July 23.