Holiday Softball Tournament A Dud

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Hopes of rejuvenating interest in the Payson Amateur Softball Association Firecracker slow-pitch softball tournament are fading.

Barring a sudden rush of teams, Hunt said the Independence Day tournament will probably be canceled.

"We do not have any teams entered in the men's and women's division and I've only had a few calls from the Phoenix area about the coed," town recreation specialist Charlene Hunt said.

"And, the deadline is June 24."

Only months ago, Hunt -- a longtime softball player and coach --ad hopes of returning the Firecracker to the blue-ribbon status it held during summer holidays of the past.

"It was a popular tournament everyone looked forward to and wanted to play in," she said.

Hunt said she doesn't know the reasons behind the demise of the Firecracker, but suspects the popularity of adult softball could be on the decline.

"That's what I'm hearing from other recreation people around the state," she said. "Softball is taking a backwards step."

If softball ends up lying fallow with the adults, Hunt is interested in changing it to a youth event.

"We'll look at that and some other things," she said.

While the future of the Firecracker is in doubt, the popularity of the Second Annual Softball Home Run Derby is on the rise.

"I feel there is some adrenaline running out there for this," Hunt said.

The event will begin at 5 p.m. July 16 on the Rumsey II ball field. The entry fee is $45 and must be paid by July 15. The derby will feature both a men's and women's division.

Entrants will compete in teams of three to determine which squad can swat the most homeruns in a designated number of pitches.

First, second and third-place winners will have $500, $200 and $100 respectively donated to the charity of the team's choice. The town's park and recreation department and Mazatzal Casino are sponsoring the tournament.

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