Sign-Up Slow For Little League Softball, Baseball

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Payson's reputation as a community where young athletes and their parents usually wait until the final moments to register for sports play is not changing soon.

At least that's the opinion of local Little League softball and baseball officials, who are at wit's end, trying to encourage youngsters to register for spring and summer play.

"It (sign-up) has been slow for both sports and the final registration is coming up soon at tryouts," Little League softball board member Will Dunman said. The tryouts and final sign-up will begin at 9 a.m. Feb. 16 on the Rumsey I playing field.

Registrations for both baseball and softball will also be held 9 a.m. until noon Feb. 2 and 9 in the Rim Country Middle School gymnasium.

Also, registration may be completed weekdays at Intermountain West, located at 107 N. Tonto St. When signing up there, ask for Mariah.

"We give them plenty of chances to register, they just need to do it," newly appointed Little League President Slade Gibson said.

"We want everyone who wants to play to have the chance to do so."

The fee is $75 per player and $70 for each addition participant from the same family. Little League baseball is open to youths six to 15-years of age and softball to girls 7 to 16-years.

When registering, participants must bring with them a copy of their birth certificate.

First-ever Little League fastpitch

The upcoming season will mark the debut of Little League-sponsored Girls Fastpitch Softball.

Little League has long sponsored fastpitch in the Valley, but only baseball has been offered in the Rim Country.

Dunman, also the Payson High School girls softball coach, said there are long been a need in the town for fast pitch, mostly because only slow pitch is offered in local youth leagues.

"Fastpitch will better prepare them for high school softball," he said.

An organizational meeting to jump-start the softball program was held Jan. 12.

"We took the first steps towards getting things going," Dunman said.

This season, players' ages seven to nine years will participate in the Minor League and those nine to 12-years will be entered in the Major League.

Senior League will consist of girls 13-16 years.

The Minor League will use a "Machine Pitch" format and both the Major and Senior will be "Player Pitch."

Dunman and other league officials are in the process of designing a plan for placing athletes on the teams they will play on during the upcoming season.

"We'll use the tryout system that baseball does and go from there," Dunman said.

Once the season begins, some of the teams could be playing against Little League squads from the White Mountain towns.

"We set some of those up in case we don't have enough teams in each league," Gibson said. "We want the softball and baseball teams to all have good years."

The baseball teams will be out to build on the huge successes the squads have recently enjoyed.

Last year, the 10-11-year-old Payson all-stars advanced to the state tournament where the group, coached by Eddie Duran, finished with a 2-2 mark.

The 11-12-years team compiled a 4-2 record in the district tournament held in Flagstaff. The team's only two losses were to Blue Ridge.

In 2006, The Payson Little League all-stars won area and district tournament and were a tie-breaker away from reaching the final four of the Arizona state tournament.

But a combination of math and fate kept the team from advancing to the next level. Instead of moving on, the Rim Little Leaguers had to settle for a 4-2 record and a fifth-place tournament finish in the field of 14 of Arizona's finest teams.

This season, in addition to the local Little League programs calling for players, the organization is in need of volunteers to help oversee the program. For more information, call Dunman at (928) 472-2266.

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