A trio of Rim country softball players will participate in the granddaddy of senior softball tournaments when it is contested Oct. 8 through 11 in Phoenix.
For the Fountain Hills Falcons, Billy Joe Winchester will be the starting pitcher, Dave Crowell the first-line right fielder and Tom Neblett the team's shortstop.
Players from the Phoenix area round out the team that has its origins in Payson. Last year, many of the current Falcons players were members of the Payson Grays 50-55-years-old team.
The Falcons qualified for a berth in the 1999 Senior Softball World Championships -- to be contested at Rose Mofford Stadium, Phoenix Municipal Stadium, Desert West Complex and Victory Lanes -- by winning two ASA tournament championships the past year.
One such triumph occurred in Prescott and the other at the Rim Country Championships held in Payson last spring.
More than 400 teams
According to Crowell, more than 400 teams will compete in the world championships.
"The teams compete through three days of round-robin play to earn a berth in a double elimination tournament," he said.
The Falcons will participate in the 50-55-years age group which Crowell says "traditionally includes the toughest competition in the world championship."
A first- or second-place showing in the tournament would earn the Falcon players prized souvenirs of their athletic accomplishments.
"The winners receive world championship rings valued at over $300 each and the second-place teams (receive) world championship watches," Crowell said.
Also, a strong effort could provide the team members some national exposure.
"One of the national TV networks, ESPN, will be on hand filming a documentary on senior softball and also televise the championships game," Crowell said.
The journey to championship action won't be a first for most of the Falcon players.
Last season, when the team was known as the Grays, the squad participated in the 1998 World Championships in Aurora, Colo.
Crowell says last year's experience should help the team as it begins its quest for what fellow players hope will be a senior world crown.