Spike The Super Ball To Lead Rodeo Parade

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Spike the Super Ball, the official mascot of the 2008 Super Bowl, is scheduled to be the first entry in the 123rd Annual Oldest Continuous Rodeo parade.

Spike will be traveling the state, making more than 40 stops on a tour designed to fire up interest in the Super Bowl, which will be played Feb. 3, 2008 in Glendale.

In the Payson parade, Spike won't be hard to spot. He'll be dressed as a football and outfitted with sports shades and sneakers.

At each stop along the tour, including the one in Payson, he will deliver to town officials a replica of the official Super Bowl XLII ball.

On July 4, Spike appeared at the Independence Day parade in Flagstaff.

Future stops include visits to the White Mountain Festival, Navajo National Fair, the Standin' on the Corner block party in Winslow, Rex Allen Days in Wilcox, the Fort Verde Days in Camp Verde, ASU homecoming and the Graham County Fair in Safford.

Deadline extended

The deadline for the Fourth Annual Home Run Derby has been extended from July 1 to noon July 6. Those who enter before the time limit will be allowed to participate in the event set to begin at 6 p.m. July 6 on the Rumsey II ball field.

Registration is $45 per three-person team and must be paid by the sign-up deadline. Players must be 21 years of age or older.

The event is co-sponsored by Mazatzal Casino.

The Home Run Derby will feature both men's and women's divisions. For the women, the home run fence will be moved in to 200 feet from home plate. For the men, a home run is one hit over the regulation Rumsey II fence.

Also, the women will hit an 11-inch softball, commonly used in most recreation leagues. The men will hit a 12-inch softball.

Hitters will supply their own pitchers. Pitches must be underhand, with an arch of six to 12 feet above the ground.

The good news for power hitters is that all bats are legal. Which means the high-dollar bats that are banned in ASA play can be used. Among those bats are the Worth Wicked, Easton Synergy Plus, Ultra and Ultra 2.

Those bats, which can cost more than $300, send balls farther and with more velocity, because some are built with a combination of fiberglass and graphite and others have double-wall titanium.

"There is no such thing as an illegal bat in this," said recreation leader Charlene Hunt. "And we won't be using restricted flight softballs. They can bring their .50 core balls, which are illegal in most tournaments."

The tournament will begin with an opening round, in which entrants are given 15 pitches. In the second round, they receive 10 pitches.

After the home runs for each team are calculated, the top four teams from both rounds will advance to the finals.

In the final round, each team begins with a zero score and players receive 15 pitches each.

In case of ties, a sudden death, one-pitch tiebreaker will be used.

Call Mary McMullen at (928) 474-5242, ext. 7.

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