Ryan Ricke did double duty as first baseman and pitcher for the Cardinals during a Little League game against the Athletics in Rumsey Park, Tuesday, June 1.
Photo by Andy Towle.
The Little League regular season is winding down, which means players, coaches and administrators are gearing up for all-star selections and post-season tournaments.
In major league baseball play, four teams opened the week battling for the championship in a double elimination tournament.
The title will be decided at 5 p.m. today, June 4.
The A’s took the tournament’s No. 1 seed and the Diamondbacks were No. 2. The No. 3 seed went to the Pirates, and the Cardinals garnered the No. 4 seed.
The tournament marks the conclusion of the season that tipped off, with much fanfare, on April 17 during opening day ceremonies at Rumsey Park.
With regular season play over, all-star selection, which will be held June 15, is next on the softball and baseball agenda.
“Then (all-star) practice starts,” said Little League vice president Slade Gibson.
This year, Payson has been selected to host three all-star tournaments.
In baseball, the town has been awarded both area and district tournaments for 12-year-olds. Payson will also hold the 9-10-year-old girls area softball finals.
“We have a lot going on,” said Gibson.
Payson has recently had a rich history in post-season play, with several teams winning area and district titles to advance to state.
Among the most successful for all the Rim Country all-star teams was the the 2006 9-10-year-old team coached by Craig McMullen that roared undefeated through area and district tournaments to advance to the state tournament, along with 13 of Arizona’s finest teams.
Dreams of Payson’s first Little League state champion were squashed, however, by a bizarre ruling used to break a tie between Tucson Sabino and Payson for the right to advance to the final four.
Using a “ration of runs allowed per defensive inning” tiebreaker, Sabino advanced to the final four and Payson had to settle for a 4-2 record and a state fifth-place finish.
In 2003, an all-star team coached by Bob Halenar also won area and district tournaments to qualify for state, where the celestial squad finished 3-3.