A Payson women's softball team will advance to the Amateur Softball Association Western National Championships as the Arizona state champions.
"Hot Ice," the Payson Athletic Club/Payson Physical Therapy tournament team, earned the national berth by virtue of its championship win in the ASA Class D state tournament July 20 at Rumsey Park.
The Western National Championship is Sept. 20 to 22 near Seattle, Wash.
According to Hot Ice team coach Charlene Hunt, the local squad has accepted the invitation to travel to Washington to represent Arizona in the national contest.
In the Hot Ice's state championship tournament victory, the Rim diamond squad compiled a 4-0 record in round robin play before going on to edge Yuma Cocopah Casino 10-9 in the championship finale.
Although the Payson crew outscored their opponents 95-39 in the round robin, the championship game turned into a barn burner that tested the team's mettle.
Trailing 9-6 in the bottom of seventh inning, Hot Ice rallied on one-out doubles by Nina Ray and Melodi Deaton to remain in contention.
Singles from Cherry Nottingham, Sandee Koon, Molly Hunt and Bev Zimmerman loaded the bases and set the stage for Marci Sander's heroics.
With one out and the scored tied 9-9, Sanders pinch-hit single into right field propelled Payson to victory.
"We played five straight games without a break to win it," Hunt said.
The defensive star of the game was third baseman Tracy Hoffman. In the top of the third inning, Yuma led 7-4 and had runners on first and second with one out.
The next batter lined a hard grounder to Hoffman, who was able to make a backhand catch. Almost as quickly as she gloved the ball, she stepped on third for the forced out and then launched the ball to first to complete the double play and end the inning.
The round robin began Saturday morning with Payson chalking up a 24-15 victory over Prescott Adventure Travel.
The big hit of the game was Deaton's grand slam home run.
In a 29-11 victory over Yuma in the second round, Ray swatted two round trippers and Deaton finished 5-5 at the plate.
Chloe Reynolds and Hoffman finished 4-5, Hunt said.
In third round play, Payson whipped Flagstaff Diamond Auto Glass 24-7.
Payson's final victim, the Mazatzal Casino, fell 18-6. Eileen Daniels contributed three singles and a double to the triumph.
The Mazatzal team wrapped up the tournament with a 1-3 record, Hunt said.