Hot Ice Set To Melt Long-Ball Foes

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Members of the Hot Ice women's slow-pitch softball team have their sights set on top three finishes in the inaugural Home Run Derby, sponsored by the Mazatzal Casino.

If they achieve their goal at the Sept. 12 event, the $900 in total prize money will be donated to the Gracie Haught Classic Tournament scheduled for sometime in March.

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Former Lady Longhorn softball star Molly Hunt is one of the Hot Ice team members entered in the Home Run Derby sponsored by Mazatzal Casino and the Payson Parks and Recreation Department.

Melodi Deaton, Nina Ray and Molly Hunt make up the three-person team, according to Hot Ice team member Charlene Hunt. The three have been practicing their home run swings in the afternoons at Lady Longhorn field.

Hot Ice also will field a team of Marci Rush, Cherry Nottingham and Cheri Brennen. The third team roster includes Sandee Koon, Julie Ashby and Traci Hoff.

"With those three teams, we are going for the sweep all the prize money," Charlene Hunt said.

The inaugural Grace Haught Classic, a high school fast-pitch tournament, is expected to draw some of the finest Class 3A and 4A prep teams in the state to Payson next spring. The Lady Longhorns will host the tournament.

The Classic will be played in memory of 3-year-old Gracie Lee Haught, who died Feb. 6, 2004 in a tragic accident in Star Valley.

At the time of her death, Gracie's mother, Bobbie Jo Haught, was a Lady Longhorn junior varsity coach and a member of the Hot Ice team.

Derby rules

Upon registering for the Home Run Derby, each three-person team must designate a nonprofit organization to be the recipient of their prize money.

The winning team's charity choice will receive $500. The runners-up designation will earn $300 and the third-place team's choice gets $100.

The derby will feature both men's and women's divisions. For the men, the home run fence will be 235 feet from home plate. For women, it will be 200 feet.

The women will hit an 11-inch softball commonly used in most recreation leagues. The men will hit a 12-inch softball.

Hitters will supply their own pitchers. Pitches must be underhand and with an arch of six to 12 feet above the ground.

The tournament will begin with an opening round in which entrants are given 20 pitches. In the second round, they face 10 pitches.

After the home runs for each team are calculated, the top four teams from both rounds will advance to the finals.

In the final round, each team begins with a zero score and players receive 20 pitches each.

In case of a tie, a sudden death one-pitch tie-breaker will be used.

Since all bats are legal in the derby, the truly serious power hitters with plenty of pocket money can use their high-dollar bats that are banned in most ASA tournaments. Among those bats are the Worth Wicked, Easton Synergy Plus, Ultra and Ultra 2. Balls hit off those bats -- which can cost more than $300 -- travel farther and with more velocity because some are built with a combination of fiberglass and graphite and others are double-wall titanium.

According to Hunt, the Hot Ice teams will be armed with some of those state-of-the-art bats.

"Molly hit 10 of 12 (pitches) out (of the park) yesterday," she said.

All players on teams finishing first through third place will receive trophies. The top male and female home run hitters also will receive awards.

The entry fee is $25 for a team of three. Official rules and entry forms are available at the Payson Parks and Recreation office at 1000 W. Country Club Drive.

Call (928) 474-5242 ext. 7 for more information.

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