A pair of former Payson High School sports standouts dominated the Fifth Annual Home Run Derby.
Chad Martin scooped up the men’s title by swatting 21 home runs and Jadie Plummer took the women’s crown by punching 16 round-trip tickets.
Martin was an Arizona Coaches Association All-Star and All-State First Team lineman for the Longhorn football team in 1990. He was also a two-year starting third baseman for the PHS baseball team.
Plummer was a senior member of the Lady Longhorn softball team in 1998 and at the end of the season was voted to the All-Central Region team.
For the derby, which was contested July 24 at Rumsey Park, nine men’s and three women’s teams participated.
“It was a great turnout,” said Joseph Harris, sports coordinator for Payson Parks and Recreation.
The Town of Payson Parks and Recreation Department and the Mazatzal Hotel and Casino sponsored the event, as both have since the derby’s inception.
Martin’s victory was his second successive derby title. Last year, he won the event with 18 home runs.
The former Horn star said he stayed with a traditional bat rather than using the state-of-the-art, high-dollar bats that are outlawed in ASA and USSA play but were OK’d for use in the derby.
“My bat was legal, but the balls being used were really hard,” he said.
For the derby, Harris put in play .50 core, 650-pound compression balls rather than the .47, 525-pound compression restricted flight balls that are traditionally used in league play.
Plummer, who now lives in Phoenix, also noticed a difference in the softballs.
“Those balls were terrific,” she said.
In addition to Plummer winning the individual title, she was on the winning Crabdree Insurance team with Tamara Crabdree and Malia Richards.
The trio slugged 24 home runs and donated its $500 first place prize money to the Gracie Lee Haught Foundation in the name of Pat Willis.
The Mazatzal Casino annually donates the prize money to derby winners, which by contest rules, must go to a non-profit organization of the team’s choice.
Martin was a member of the Garvin’s Towing squad that finished second overall with 38 home runs. On the team with Martin were Mike Barr and Wayne Loy.
Martin, Barr and Loy donated their $200 second place prize money to the Rotary Club.
The men’s first place trio, Sudden Death, contributed $500 to the Gracie Lee Haught Foundation.
On the men’s championship team were Cory Austin, Jack Coombs and Chad LeSueur.
The three ran away with the title, hitting 48 home runs.
The third place men’s team, Gus Bus, donated $100 to the Payson High School baseball team.
Manny Arguello, Ricky Young and Martin Ruiz formed the bronze medal lineup. The trio slapped 28 home runs.
Finishing behind Crabdree Insurance in the women’s division were runner-up Waste Management and third place finishers, Dani’s Team.
Waste Management donated $200 to the Gracie Lee Haught Foundation raising the amount the fund earned during the derby to $1,200. On the Waste Management team, was the mother and daughter duo of Melodi and Christina Deaton and Marci Sanders. The three punched 23 home runs, just one less the Crabdree Insurance.
Michelle Dean, Denise Morgan and Danielle O’Haver formed Dani’s Team that hit 10 home runs. The trio designated the Payson High School football program as the recipient of the $100 in prize money.
For the derby, rules allowed each batter to receive 15 pitches and 10 swings in the first round.
“So, basically they could reject five pitches,” Harris said.
In the second round, all hitters had 10 pitches only. At the conclusion of the first two rounds, the cumulative scores were tabulated and the top three teams advanced to the finals. There, scores were wiped away to zero and each hitter had 10 pitches to hit as many HRs as possible.