Little Leaguers Bid To Become Best

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Ridge Halenar knows from experience what it takes to be part of a successful Little League team.

He was a starting member of the 2003 Payson Little League major division all-star team (11-12-years) that won area and division championships before eventually finishing fifth in the state finals.

It was the best showing ever turned in by a Rim country Little League team.

Halenar, who graduated from Rim Country Middle School last spring, admits the current edition of Little League all-stars are a solid bunch of players but won't go so far as to say they are as good as the one he was a part of.

If the 2005 all-stars want to prove they are as polished as their acclaimed predecessors, they'll have to do it on the field.

The Rim celestial squad took two giant steps towards proving they can play with the best by defeating a pair of Flagstaff all-star teams in the opening two rounds of the Area 1 tournament currently under way at Rumsey Park.

In the tournament opener June 27, Payson rode the stellar pitching of Westin Gibson and a grand slam home run by Cameron Geske to an 8-2 win over Continental.

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Keaton Duran started on the hill against Flagstaff Coconino and was credited with the victory after pitching four innings.

The following day, Payson continued its run through the tournament with an 8-4 victory over Coconino.

In the win, Keaton Duran opened on the hill and hurled four innings before giving way to fireman's help from Josh Bane.

If Payson can continue it's winning ways, it will earn a berth in the championship game at 1 p.m., July 2 at Rumsey Park.

Also in the tournament are teams from Tuba City, Winslow and Mount Eldon.

The winner of the area tournament advances to the Little League District showdown July 5 in Taylor. The champion of the district tournament is automatically awarded a berth into the state championship in Gilbert.

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