Three All-Star Teams Selected

High expectations are in place for hand-picked 12-year-old team

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"Let the games begin," could be the rallying cry of the Payson Little League all-stars.

The clashes the boys of summer are eagerly anticipating are the postseason all-star tournaments that pit teams from around Arizona against one another in area, district and state showdowns.

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Getting ready to participate in an all-star Little League game are (back row, left to right) Coach Brent Cannon, Conner Duran, Miguel Mendoza, Nick McMullen, Chance Randall, Blake Cannon and Coach Craig McMullen. Front row: Austin Young, Dailey Carnes, Tyus Sarnowski, Zach Wolf, Dallin McNab and Tanner Purtill.

The players representing their hometowns are all-stars, hand-picked by coaches at the conclusion of the regular seasons.

If the voting coaches are on target in their selections, the stars are the most accomplished players in each town or league.

Payson will send three star teams into the postseason -- a 9-10-year-old group, a 10-11-year-old squad and a 12-year-old team.

The 12-year-old team is being managed by Brent Cannon and coached by Craig McMullen. Ken Schneider will manage the 10-11 team and Heath Wacker will coach. Denver White has been selected the 9-10-years manager. A coach has yet to be named.

If there is one particular team local Little League fans are focused on, it is the 12-year-old crew.

The interest the squad is receiving is due mostly to the team's past successes.

In 2006, nine of the 11 members of the current 12-year-old team formed the nucleus of Payson's 9-10-year-old squad that advanced to the state tournament after going undefeated in area and district contests.

At state, which was held in Cottonwood, the team came within an eyelash of earning a berth in the final four.

Payson tied Sabino and Verde Valley for two berths in the four-team semifinal.

Much to the chagrin of Rim Country faithful, the slots went to Sabino and Verde on a controversial "ratio of runs allowed per defensive inning" tiebreaker.

Although the team suffered the heartbreak of defeat, a feeling the players rarely knew during their amazing postseason run, it finished with a 4-2 record.

In Payson Little League history, no team has ever fared better in the postseason than the 2006 stars.

In 2007, basically the same group, again won area and district titles but was eliminated at state by a 3-1 loss to Mesa and 10-0 to Nogales.

On the current 12-year-old team, only two of the players, Dallen McNabb and Austin Young, were not members of the 2006 team.

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Warming up before honing their skills in preparation for their trip to an all-star Little League game are Zach Wolf, left, and Tyus Sarnowski.

"This team has plenty of (all-star) experience," McMullen said.

Coaches and fans are counting on that moxie to buoy the team when it opens pursuit, June 27 in Winslow, of its third consecutive area and district championships.

The 10-11-year-old tournament will begin June 27 in Flagstaff and the 9-10 tournament will be held in Payson.

The 12-year-old all-star players are Chance Randall, Blake Cannon, Miquel Mendoza, Nick McMullen, Tanner Purtill, Tyus Sarnowski, Zach Wolf, Konner Duran, Daily Karnes, McNabb and Young. The alternate is Chris Bickert.

The 10-11-year-old all-stars are Dalton Conway, Dean Harpe, Quinton Wells, Layne Chitwood, Chazz Klabbatz, Bowen Sweeney, Matt Davis, Ryan Wacker, Nick Schneider, Logan Morgan, Nick Hatt and Chris Wacker. The alternate is John Figueroa.

On the 9-10-year-old team are Austin Gibson, Bryce Goodman, Taran Sarnowski, Brigham Flake, Clayton White, Grayson Barr, Ryan Ricke, Doran Kaufmann, Bryce Stodghill, Daniel Woolwine and Korben White. The alternate is Shadrack McNeeley.

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