Coaches, Officials Meet To Plan District And Area Tournaments

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The Little League season reaches its zenith tomorrow in Winslow, where coaches and officials will gather to plan all-important area and district tournaments.

Representing Payson at the meeting will be All-Star coaches Tom Belcher, Eddie Duran and Slade Gibson, as well as local president Cindy Chovich.

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Payson Little League players will travel to Show Low and Flagstaff to represent the Rim Country in Area 1 tournament play.

"There will be a lot to do there," she said. "We have to have our (All-Star) rosters, birth certificates and proof of residency ready."

Also, preliminary tournament schedules will be finalized.

Gibson, the coach of Payson's 9- and 10-year-olds All-Star team, anticipates his team will open pursuit of an Area I championship June 29 in Flagstaff.

"We are practicing every day to get ready," he said.

According to Area 1 Little League officer Kevin Mullaney of Flagstaff, most of the 9- and 10-year-olds All-Star games will be hosted by Coconino LL and games played at Mark Grace field.

Duran, a longtime youth coach who managed the A's last season, expects to take his talented 10-11-year-old stars to Show Low for postseason play.

Mullaney said the District tournament would also be played in the White Mountain community.

Duran anticipates the Payson stars will perform well there.

"We are excited because we have seven players off that team that finished fifth at state last year," he said.

The manager of that highly successful LL team, Craig McMullen, will assist Duran, as will Brent Cannon.

The tournament for the 11/12-year-old All-Stars has been compiled, but could be altered at the Winslow meeting, Mullaney said.

In Payson, some confusion exists about the playing site. Originally, the tournament was to be contested in Page, but the tournament has been moved because the community was having troubles with their fields.

Instead, the Payson team will be playing in Flagstaff. The team, coached by Tom Belcher, opens at 1 p.m. June 29 against Flagstaff LL on the Flagstaff Major Field.

The tournament continues until July 7 when the champion is crowned. That titleholder will advance to Snowflake for District LL play. Payson will also send a 13/14-year-olds "junior" team to Winslow for the Area 1 tournament.

"That team has not been selected yet, because there are (regular season) games to be played," Chovich said. "The manager of the team that wins the league will be the All-Star coach."

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