It didn't take Ridge Halenar's best effort to win the championship of the Pepsi Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit and Run competition.
The five-time Payson Pepsi champion is the first to admit that the 807 points he scored in winning the 11-12-year-old age division is not up to his usual gold-medal standards.
"I've been so busy with school and basketball, I didn't have the time to practice," he said.
A sign that the Rim Country Middle School sixth-grader was struggling came in the hitting competition that was won by Jared Schrank with his 312 points.
"That's usually my best event," Halenar said.
Although Halenar didn't win the hitting or the running crowns, his score of 300 points was enough to earn him the individual pitching championship.
"Pitching is normally my worst event," he said
Devin England won the run title with 306 points.
At the conclusion of the competition April 12 on the Rumsey's No 2 ballfield, Halenar had racked up enough overall points, 807, to win the Payson title for the sixth consecutive time.
According to Halenar, the most points he has posted was 1,110.
Halenar will now advance to the Pitch Hit and Run sectional competition, along with the three other Payson age group champions. The date and location have not yet been announced.
Halenar will enter the event as a four-time age group sectional champion who has qualified for the Arizona Diamondbacks team championship on four occasions.
His best finish at the Diamondbacks state showdown was third. He earned that five years ago when he was competing in the 7-8-years-old age group.
Prepping for sectionals
Before Halenar heads to the sectional battles, he's made himself a firm promise.
"I'm going to find time to practice," he said.
On all levels, local events through the national finals, Pitch Hit and Run competition tests youngsters in three of the most fundamental aspects of baseball. In pitching, participants must throw strikes into a designated strike zone target. During the hitting, the youngsters' hits off a stationary tee are measured for distance and accuracy. In running, the entrants are timed starting from second base, rounding third and to home.
All of the events are individually scored and converted to a total point score with the use of conversion tables. Boys and girls compete together through all levels of competition.
In the 7-8-years age group at the Payson event, Blake Cannon won with 466 points.
Individual event winners were Nicholas McMuller (hit; 198), Payson Bobizer (run; 247) and Cannon (pitch; 150).
After winning both the pitching and hitting championships, Phillip Santerfield claimed the 11-12-year-old crown (711 points). In the pitching, he scored 225 and in the hitting was credited with 228 points. Gunner Bauer won the run title (279).
The hotly contested 13-14-years title went to B.J. Welsh with 842 points. On his way to the title, Welsh also won the hit championship (434). Travis Hutching claimed the run gold medal (334). Hutching and Titus Jumper shared the pitching crown with identical tallies of 150 points.