Minors On The Road To Flagstaff Showdown

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Blake Cannon shouldered the pitching load July 7 for the Payson Minor Division (9-10 year olds) All-Stars in a district tournament showdown against Blue Ridge. (Results not available at press time).

The district showdown is being contested at the same site the recently completed area tournament was held -- Flagstaff Continental field.

According to Payson coach Ty Goodman, both BR and Payson entered the postseason showdown as area tournament champs with 3-0 records.

The team that emerged victorious from the showdown should have the inside track toward nailing down the Little League District championship.

Cannon, who will be a sixth-grader at Rim Country Middle School this year, should have been well armed for the crucial pitching test against Blue Ridge.

His slingshot, fireballing deliveries helped earn him a first-place finish June 12 at the Pepsi Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit and Run Team Championship at Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix.

While Cannon is the team's mound ace, the Rim country squad has a roster-full of accomplished young pitchers and players.

In a 10-6 win over Flagstaff Continental June 27 in the opening round of the area tournament, Brady O'Donald came on in relief of Cannon and eventually was credited with the victory.

In Payson's second round 13-1 over Flagstaff, Justin Cobb pitched the entire four innings in a game shortened on the 10-run mercy rule. Chase Randall paced the Payson offense finishing three-for-three at the plate including a line drive off the fence that was ruled a double after the ball lodged in a banner, Goodman said.

Chris Cooper stepped up in the tournament's third round to pitch Payson to an 11-1 victory over Winslow. The game was also shorted to four innings on the mercy rule.

In all three tournament games, Goodman praised center fielder Eric Vohs for his defensive exploits.

"He's real solid out there. He can catch anything that comes his way," the coach said. "The whole team is good defensively."

In taking on Blue Ridge in the district opener, the Payson All-Stars were playing a team that run-ruled them during last year's postseason tournament.

"We think we are a better team this year," Goodman said prior to the team leaving for Flagstaff.

The Payson All-Stars were selected in a voting of Minor Division coaches held at the conclusion of the regular season.

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