Low Numbers Put Future Of Senior League In Peril

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For the first time in about as long as anyone can remember, Payson Little League might not field a senior division team this season.

According to Little League President Chuck Barton, not enough players of senior division ages, 13 to 15, have registered to be able to continue offering the older league.

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Little League President Chuck Barton

During five registration periods in January, only 14 senior players signed up.

To field a division of four teams, a minimum of 48 players is needed.

"If we have any less than four teams, all you have is the same teams playing one another over and over," Barton said.

Barton is unsure about why a lack of interest in senior play is occurring, but speculates it could be a newly formed traveling teenage team or possibly the presence of the baseball team at Rim Country Middle School.

If players on any of those team, however, would also like to play Little League, Barton foresees no problems.

"There shouldn't be a conflict," he said.

In a last gasp effort to attract more senior players, league officials will host a final registration period from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. March 30 at the Arizona Public Service Payson office at 400 W. Longhorn Road.

The registration fee is $60 per player. Families with more than one child participating in the league will receive a discount of $5. When registering, parents should also bring their child's birth certificate.

If the minimum of 48 players do not register, the league will refund what registration fees have been paid and cancel the senior program.

In addition to the league needing more players of senior age, the league is looking for both managers and coaches.

The season

Little League action for the major, minor and AAA teams will tip off April 9 at Rumsey Park and continue until mid-June.

Teams in the majors division (10 to 12) will play a 20-game regular season schedule. Those in the minors (7 to 9) will play a 15-game slate.

For the first time this season, only one game will be played each night at Rumsey I rather than double headers as in past seasons.

According to Barton, league officials canceled the doubleheaders because some games were finishing late into weekday evenings

"We wanted them home, rested and ready for school the next day," Barton said.

Because there will be no twin bills, the Rumsey concession standing will be open for Saturday games only.

Since the stand was a consistent source of revenue for the league, its closing on weekdays could result in some financial hardships down the road, Barton said.

In the AAA or "coach-pitch" league, mostly for 6-year-olds, one game will be played weekdays at Rumsey III.

At the conclusion of the regular season, Payson will host the Area 1 Major Division Little League All-Star tournament.

The double elimination tournament will draw four teams from Flagstaff and one each from Winslow, Tuba City and Page. Games will be played at Rumsey I and the high school softball field.

For more information on Little League, call Barton at (928) 468-1711.

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