A pair of Payson Little League baseball and softball all-star teams are alive and well in postseason play, but three others have been eliminated with two losses each.
The 13-14-year-old softball stars, coached by Chris Perkes, have racked up a 2-1 record and remain in contention for a state berth, as do the Major Division 12-year-old baseball stars.
Eliminated from the postseason are the 9-10-year-old baseball and softball all stars and the 10-11-year-old softball team.
The 13-14 softball nine, playing in Winslow, opened the area tournament by run-ruling Holbrook, 18-2, and Flagstaff, 14-1, before falling to perennially tough Snowflake. With a 2-1 record, the team returns to action at 7 p.m. today, July 9, against the winner of an earlier Blue Ridge vs. Winslow clash.
The Major Division baseball team, playing at Rumsey Park, lost a heartbreaking opener, 13-6 on July 3 to long-time rival Flagstaff Continental. The team came roaring back two days later to run-rule Mt. Elden 17-6. Payson then outlasted Winslow 6-5, and Wednesday, Payson advanced to the district tournament with a 15-4 victory over Page.
Payson opens District 1 play at 6 p.m. today on Rumsey III vs. Show Low. Tournament Director Heath Wacker and coaches are calling for a “black out” — asking fans to wear black to the game. The Payson team’s uniforms are black.
In the softball team’s loss to Snowflake, Payson pushed their opponents to the limit, trailing only 2-1 going into the seventh.
“We outhit them and played so well,” said Perkes. “My heart goes out to the girls.”
The coach cited pitcher Devann Runzo and infielder Kaitlin Wessel for their contributions.
“Devann put her heart and soul into that game,” he said. “And I moved Kaitlin (from first) to third where she played a dynamite game.”
Runzo also has been a force at the plate during the tournament, swatting a double and a triple in Payson’s win over Holbrook.
In the baseball team’s district clinching win vs. Page, Rueben Estrada started and was credited with the win. Grayson Barr and Chris Wacker mopped up. Bryce Goodman and Barr both punched booming home runs over the left centerfield fence.
“We were on a hitting tear,” said all-star coach Ty Goodman.