The Payson Sidewinders might be the most unique youth baseball team in the country.
The snakes distinctiveness is because some of the young players, most 12 years of age, cherish big-game hunting as much as they do baseball.
In fact, during the fall season, Sidewinder coaches had to reschedule a game because it conflicted with deer season.
The team participated most of the season in a Valley-based league that attracted powerful all-star teams playing year-round baseball.
Due to the tough competition, the snakes won just three games, coach Gary Chitwood said, but played on even terms against most of its opponents.
When the team members weren’t playing baseball or in school, hunting was on the agenda.
Among those who drew tags and were successful in their hunts were Mason Ridley, Layne Chitwood and Quinton Wells.
Ridley, on his first-ever hunt, downed a cow elk in Unit 6A north of Strawberry. For the Sidewinders, Ridley played in the outfield.
Layne Chitwood, the coach’s son, took a whitetail buck with a single shot from his .243 caliber rifle at about 150 yards. The boy was both a catcher and a pitcher for the baseball team.
Wells, a Sidewinder pitcher, bagged a mule buck near Gisela.
“The boys like baseball, but hunting too,” Gary Chitwood said.