A 5-0 record in postseason play has earned the Payson Little League Minor Division (9-10 years) all-stars the opportunity to earn the town's first-ever state championship.
Pursuit of the elusive crown begins tomorrow, Wednesday, in Cottonwood (Game time and opponent not known at press time).
The team advances to state as the District One champions having nailed down the crown last week by beating Show Low 24-0 and Flagstaff Mt. Elden 27-7. The district championships were played in Eagar-Springerville.
Payson entered the District finals as the Area One champion having beaten Page 17-3, Flagstaff Continental 14-1 and Mt. Elden 24-0 in the championships held in Page.
In the area and district tournaments, the high-powered Payson team rolled over its opponents by a combined score of 97-9.
As good as the Little League's offense is, it might be pitching that will buoy the team during its pursuit of a state championship.
Manager Craig McMullen said about half of his roster were pitchers during the regular season and the team has several aces at his beck and call.
Among those who have shined on the hill are Chris Cooper, Miquel Mendoza, Nick McMullen and Blake Cannon.
McMullen, the manager's son, hurled a no-hitter in the area tournament and Cooper has compiled a 2-0 record. Also, each time the four pitchers have received the starting nod from the manager, they have gone the distance.
Offensively, Chance Randall has swung the hot bat, slugging two home runs in tournament play.
The trip to state will be the second successive for the all-stars.
In 2005, the team marched through the area and district tournaments to advance to the Arizona finals where the squad finished 2-4.
The manager of that team was Ty Goodman, now the manager of the Payson Major division (11-12-years) all-stars.
-- To reach Max Foster call 474-5251 ext. 114 or firstname.lastname@example.org.