If you want to build a dynasty, you start from the ground up.
Anyone who knows Will Dunman, teacher and coach, knows he is a competitor and will do what it takes to build a successful program.
At the top of Dunman's dynasty is the high school varsity softball team. However, his construction began this year as coach of the eighth-grade softball team.
Those players will move up into his high school program next year and they will know his game.
His tools are bats, balls and an ever increasing knowledge of the game.
The team has a 5-1 record, which includes a first-place trophy garnered at the White Mountain tournament held in Pinetop Sept. 8.
During the tournament Payson got a bye in the first round, and then were pitted against Show Low, who they beat 7-3. Due to the bye, they went into the championship game and defeated Blue Ridge 6-2.
Their only loss to date was a home game against Snowflake. Since that loss, they have played Show Low twice, St. Johns and Blue Ridge. The Lady Mavericks have sent runners across the plate 38 times, compared to their opponents total of 5.
Not only are the offensive bats hot for the team, pitcher Danielle O'Haver is proving to be a force to reckon with. The team is on a five-game winning streak in which O'Haver has pitched 19 innings with 21 strikeouts.
"Her changeup is working for her," Dunman said. "She is shutting them down and is not losing her composure when they do hit off of her."
Dunman is enthusiastic about the whole team's continued improvement,
"After the loss to Snowflake, they really stepped up and played good ball," the coach said. "They want to meet Snowflake again in the finals."
The Lady Mavericks hosted St. Johns at home Sept. 12. Payson did not allow any runs, however, drove 16 of their own across the plate to end the game in three innings under the mercy ruling.
Catcher Hilary Armenta led the game in offense with two singles and a double. Amber Mecham, who plays third base, hit an in-the-park home run in the third inning.
O'Haver threw a shutout, 9-0, against Show Low Sept. 18. She allowed only four hits while striking out seven. Show Low struggled on the mound and was forced to use three different pitchers to try and remain in the game. Molly Agnes, led the Mavericks offensively with a triple and two singles followed by Jaden Walden who had two singles.
Dunman's squad will be on the road next week, Sept. 27, against Joe City. The Maverick seventh-grade team will be playing at home that day, beginning at 3:30 p.m.