The Payson 12-year-old all-stars are advancing to the Arizona State Little League tournament for the fourth consecutive year.
The team earned the berth July 9 with a convincing 13-2 win over Blue Ridge in Winslow.
In addition to the triumph of nailing down a seed to state, it earned the Payson stars their fourth Little League District 1 championship. The Rim stars also head to state as the Area 1 champions.
Payson will open pursuit of the program's first state championship at 10 a.m. July 16 against the champion of District 10. That team has not yet been determined.
The entire state tournament will be played on two fields at the Flagstaff Little League Complex located at 5650 E. Old Walnut Canyon Drive on the east side of the city.
Payson also has round-robin tournament games scheduled for:
- 4 p.m. July 17 vs. D2
- 10 a.m. July 19 vs. D9
- 7 p.m. July 21 vs. D3
- 7 p.m. July 22 vs. D8
- 4 p.m. July 23 vs. D7
If Payson qualifies for the semifinals, the final four will be played at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m., July 25. The championship is set for 1 p.m., July 26.
In advancing to state, the Rim stars rode the stellar pitching of Blake Cannon to the win over Blue Ridge.
Payson also thrived on a first inning onslaught in which the team scored six runs. Nick McMullen led the barrage with two first inning doubles.
Chance Randall continued his power-hitting exhibition with a two-run home run.
"The first inning kind of set the tone for the game," coach Craig McMullen said.
The game was ended after four innings on the 10-run mercy rule. A day prior to the district triumph, Payson lost 5-4 to Blue Ridge setting up the for-all-the-marbles championship showdown.