A foursome of aspiring baseball players won the right to represent the Rim Country in the Pepsi Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit and Run sectional competition.
The clash will be held May 12 in Flagstaff. Winners there will advance to the Arizona Diamondback Team championships to be held at a yet-to-be determined date at Chase field in Phoenix.
The Payson champions include Carl Adcock (7-8 years), Quinton Wells (9-10 years), Miguel Mendoza (11-12 years) and Cole Belcher (13-14 years).
The Payson championships were contested April 18 at Rumsey Park under the supervision of Payson Parks and Recreation Coordinator Mary McMullen.
In Adcock's winning the youngest age group title, he captured both the pitch and hit individual titles but lost the run crown to Nate McMullen.
Wells etched out an overall age division win with victories in the pitch-and-run competition. Lane Belcher captured the hit title.
In staking claim to the 11-12 years crown, Mendoza won the hit championship but did well enough in all three to earn the overall title. Also in the age group, J.J. Ward of Pine took pitching honors and Justin Cobb legged his way to the run trophy.
Cole Belcher took both the hit and run championships in his age division but lost pitching honors to Dylan Richardson.
Payson trio set the bar high
In representing Payson in the sectionals, the four local athletes will follow in the footsteps of a trio of the Rim Country's most successful competitors -- Ridge Halenar, Westin Gibson and Blake Cannon.
Halenar, now the starting catcher on the Longhorn baseball team, won six consecutive Payson Pepsi titles and was a regular at the Diamondbacks team championships.
Last year, in the 11- to 12-years division, Gibson won local and sectional championships before finishing second at the Arizona team shoot out.
In June 2005, a strong arm, sharp batting eye and blazing speed earned the 10-year-old Cannon a first-place finish at the state championships at then-Bank One Ballpark in Phoenix.
With the state victory, Cannon -- who was a sixth-grader at Rim Country Middle School -- turned eligible to advance to the National Finals at the 2005 All-Star Game in Detroit, Mich.
Although his scores didn't earn him a berth in the national finals, he became the only Rim Country athlete to ever qualify for the national showdown.
Pitch, Hit and Run is a baseball skills competition that allows young athletes to showcase their talents in pitching, hitting and running, with scores determined by individual performances in each skill event.