Softball Tournament Brings Economic Windfall; Organizers Hope To Return

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The inaugural Triple Crown USA Sports girls fast pitch softball tournament, held June 23 to 25, was a huge boost to the Payson economy.

Triple Crown sports director Bobby Pena and Payson Parks and Recreation director Bill Schwind estimate the event had an economic impact of about $250,000 -- money spent by team members and families in hotels, restaurants and elsewhere.

The tournament drew 40 club teams from around the state to Payson.

In fact, Pena said some teams declined to participate because they couldn't find enough motel rooms in Payson.

"We had some (teams) that had to stay at the Ft. McDowell Resort and commute to Payson," Pena said.

Despite the room shortage, Pena said Triple Crown is interested in returning to town.

"Because of the efforts of Bill Schwind, Molly Hunt and those at the parks department, our coaches and players want to come back to Payson," Pena said.

He expects Triple Crown to return to Payson Oct. 7 and 8 for another girls club softball tournament.

The inaugural tournament, tabbed the Payson Cool Country Fun, was played on five fields at Rumsey Park and Payson High School.

"Games began at 7 a.m. and played through until 11:30 at night," Schwind said.

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Good pitching was the name of the game in the inaugural Triple Crown USA Sports girls fast pitch softball tournament held June 23-25 in Payson.

Originally, the new synthetic turf fields at Rumsey Park were expected to be ready for the tournament.

However, when installation was delayed, Schwind and his staff had to scramble to prepare the Rumsey and high school softball and baseball fields for play.

"They did a great job of it," Pena said.

Although Payson doesn't field a club team to play in the tournament, a pair of Lady Longhorn softball stars -- Candice Johnson and Hannah Armenta -- were members of the Scottsdale Storm team that lost the 18-years-and-under championship to Gold Rush.

The tournament featured play in five age divisions from 10-and-under to 18-and-under.

The Payson tournament replaced the Flagstaff Bear Country skirmish on the Triple Crown calendar because Flagstaff ball fields are being renovated this summer.

"The (Payson) tournament was so successful, we're glad we (came here)," Pena said.

The Payson shootout served as a qualifier for the Triple Crown Sports World Series, which will be held next fall in Park City, Utah.

TCS hosts youth tournaments in softball, soccer, baseball and basketball in all 50 states.

Arizona tournaments are held in Scottsdale, Bullhead City, Tucson, Peoria and Phoenix.

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