The Payson Angels fast-pitch girls softball team is primed and ready to show its diamond skills in Amateur Softball Association 14-years-and-under play.
According to coach Jason Ritter, the fledgling team made its season debut May 25 in a 16-10 loss to the Apache Junction Lady Outlaws.
The following day, Ritter said, the Angels dropped an 8-7 decision to the Winslow Astros.
Because both games played in Apache Junction and Winslow were scrimmages against town-sponsored recreation teams, the losses won't go down in ASA league standings.
Against Winslow, the Angels were pitted against older, more seasoned players.
"They were a group of girls between 14 and 17 years old," Ritter said.
Although the Angels lost, the coach was elated with the players' efforts.
"The girls performance improved from the previous game," he said. "Tiffany Klemstein, who started (as pitcher), allowed only three runs and then was relieved by Alex Mogana who gave up five runs in 6 1/3 innings," he said.
While on the hill in relief, Mogana struck out nine.
Offensively, the Angles struggled with a slow start until fourth inning triples by Tamara Crabtree and Nicole Goldy fueled a seven-run barrage.
Also during the rally, the Payson team received some heads-up base running from Chelsie Ewing and Hanna Armenta, Ritter said.
In the loss to the Outlaws, Jennifer Johnson received the pitching nod from Ritter and hurled three innings before giving way to Mogana.
In the middle of the fifth inning, the Angels were riding the crest of a 10-6 lead but a 10-run outburst by the Outlaws in the bottom of the frame spelled Payson's demise.
The Rim country team, Ritter said, "is young and short on experience, but has the talent to really compete." The team was formed two years ago, Ritter said, when "a small group of girls decided they wanted to play some serious softball."
The Angels will jump cleats-first into ASA tournament play June 15 and 16 at the Summer Bash in Tucson. June 22 and 23, the Angels are slated for a homestand in the Tournament on the Rim. A tournament schedule will be finalized next week.
"We will host eight teams from around the state," Ritter said.
To earn funds for travel and other expenses, the Angels will host a car wash and benefit from 9 a.m until 3 p.m. tomorrow (Saturday) at Jiffy Lube.
"Please come out and support the team while enjoying some great food and drinks," Ritter said. "If you would like more information about the Payson Angels or are interested in playing or volunteering, visit us at www.PaysonAngels.com," or call Ritter at 595-1217.