Labor Day Classic A Late-Night Affair

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The ballfield lights were burning well past midnight over Labor Day weekend during Payson's biggest softball tournament of the summer.

The annual event featured men's and women's games Saturday into the wee hours of Sunday morning and picked up again at 1 p.m. that afternoon with coed play.

Women have 'touch of magic'

In the women's competition, there were two local teams Waste Management and Mazatzal Casino which vied for the championship title against teams from Phoenix and Prescott.

Waste Management was undefeated going into the championship game, where they met up with Prescott's Touch of Magic. Waste Management beat Touch of Magic earlier in the day, sending them into the losers bracket after some key hits in the bottom of the seventh inning. However Touch of Magic came into the championship series rejuvenated and beat Waste Management twice for the title.

Prescott men win

The men's division was dominated by Vandehey Builders of Prescott which swept the title away from Yardman of Casa Grande in a championship game that ended under a full moon well after midnight Sunday morning.

Third place went to Tequila Softball Club of Flagstaff. Payson's State Farm team, which has traditionally been in the top two, was eliminated Saturday evening.

Mesa 'Amigos' take coed title

Coed softball began with seven teams and ended at midnight Sunday with Payson's Waste Management being defeated in a best two-of-three championship round by Los Amigos of Mesa.

Waste Management opened against Amigos of Phoenix and rapidly disposed of them with a run rule, 20-5, in the fourth inning. The game went out of reach for the Amigos after an eight-run inning in the bottom of the third, which was highlighted by a two-run home run by Waste Management's centerfielder James Deaton.

The Payson team had a close win in their next game against the Bun Huggers of Mesa. This time, it was a combination of singles and doubles which led to the 15-13 win. The Payson ladies' bats were hot this time, with Melody Deaton hitting a triple to score Jason Schwein and Nina Ray in the bottom of the sixth.

Waste Management went into game three with the two wins under their belt and handily took care of Shawshank of Prescott, 18-10. Game four proved to be even an easier conquest as the Payson 10 met up with Amigos for the second time in the day. Once again, the game was cut short in the fourth inning, with the hot bats of Payson combining for 18 runs against Amigos 5 for run rule.

Payson went into the championship round against Los Amigos of Mesa. Both teams were undefeated.

Tournament director Teddy Pettet gave the teams the option of playing one game for the title, or best two of three. Both teams opted for the latter. Game one began at 8:30 p.m. Sunday, and led to a victory by Payson with a score of 18-13.

James Deaton led the team with a three-run homer in the second inning. Mando Flores, shortstop for Payson, also dominated the game with several line drive singles to right field. Nina Ray, Molly Hunt and Toni Waugh continued their show of power combining for a number of hits.

The first pitch of game two was hurled at 9:45 p.m. Los Amigos chipped away at Waste Management, which was obviously running out of gas. Los Amigos took the game 11-4 evening up the round at 1-1.

Both teams appeared weary as they took the field for the final time at 10:45 p.m. The temperature at midday when they were all fresh on the field had been in the high 80s, and had now dropped into the mid 60s. The Payson lineup was especially slowing down as all of their players also competed in the men's and women's divisions the day before.

Los Amigos proved to have the most stamina as they rallied for 15 runs to defeat Payson, which could only muster 13. Payson was led in the final game by pitcher Mark Mouritsen, who doubled twice down the left line to drive in several runs.

The tournament wrapped up summer play in Payson. The Payson Parks and Recreation Department's fall coed league will begin this week with play continuing through October at Rumsey Park Tuesday through Thursday.

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