Doing the flamingo stand to build coordination and balance these young Little Leaguers are put through their paces by highly qualified coaches, Mark Ernster and Danny Rodreguiz.
A pair of Payson Little League all-star teams are out and another battling for the District One tournament championship.
The teams that came up just short of reaching the state tournament include manager Eddie Duran’s 9-10-year-olds and the Junior (13 years) squad managed by Joe Mendoza.
Ty Goodman’s 10-11-year-old stars are 5-1 in the postseason and advanced to the District championship by virtue of a 5-4 win July 8 over Flagstaff Continental.
The Flagstaff team and Payson met at 7 p.m. last evening in Lakeside (results not available at press time) for the District title and the right to advance to the Little League state tournament in Nogales.
In whipping Continental, Payson defeated the team that had handed the Rim stars their only loss of the postseason.
Goodman and Little League President Slade Gibson attribute much of the credit for the win to relief pitcher Darren Kaufman.
“He was a stud,” Gibson said.
Kaufman came on in the fifth frame in relief of starter Bryce Goodman.
With the bases loaded and no outs, Kaufman whiffed three consecutive Continental batters to end the inning.
In the sixth inning, Continental had the tying run on at second and the winning run at first with the No. 2, 3 and clean-up batters set to hit.
Just as Kaufman had done an inning earlier, he K’d three straight batters to preserve the Payson win and sent the Rim Country celestial 11 into the District championship.
“He (Kaufman) faced nine batters and struck out six,” Gibson said.
The Payson 9-10-year-olds were eliminated July 8 from postseason by a 15-8 loss to Flagstaff Continental.
The Junior team was ousted by a 13-2 loss to Blue Ridge.
Following the defeat, Mendoza lauded the team saying, “These boys got this far because they never quit, they have a lot of heart.
“I’m glad I got to coach them.”