By becoming the first team in the four-year history of Rim Country fastpitch to win a postseason tournament game, Payson Little League Softball All-Stars are stamping themselves into the record books.
Actually, the stars won two games in the Area 1 tournament whipping Holbrook 13-6 on June 28 and thumping Flagstaff 11-7 a day later.
Playing in Holbrook, the celestial squad opened the tournament with a 21-17 loss to Flagstaff, but later chalked up the back-to-back wins.
“It was a great overall team effort and much needed,” All-star coach Brandon Moore said of the twin Ws.
In the tournament opening loss to Flagstaff, the Payson stars found themselves trailing 21-10 in the sixth inning — just about the time the clash was nearing blowout status.
Payson changed all that, however, rallying for seven runs to turn the final difference into a much more respectable four-run margin.
For Payson, Bethany Blanchard blasted a two-run home run.
Payson’s pitching ace Karlie Smith started on the mound for the Rim Country stars, but was unable to slow Flagstaff mostly because of a slurry of unearned runs.
Payson, however, refused to sulk, returning to the tournament with a vengeance that was highlighted by a seven-run win over homestanding Holbrook.
The game was tied 5-5 in the second inning before Holbrook took a 6-5 cushion an inning later.
In the final few frames, Payson rallied for eight runs thanks in part to Smith who was 3-for-4 at the plate and also stole home.
The stars ended the game in dramatic fashion getting the final two outs on a rare double play.
The thrill of the twin killing carried over into the second go-around against the Flagstaff stars. In it, Payson took an early 3-0 lead and then turned the game over to Smith who kept the Flag girls at bay most of the game striking out nine along the way. Tara North turned in a heads-up play stealing home against a napping Flagstaff defense.
As impressive as successfully executing softball’s most exciting play was, the key to the win might have been a stellar defense, “we made very few errors and that was the difference,” said Payson Little League softball officer Felicia Moore.
Members of the All-star team were chosen in a voting of coaches at the conclusion of the season.
Payson 9-10-year-old All-star team springs into action today, July 5, at Silver Creek against Blue Ridge.
The junior stars, 13-14 years, coached by Curtis Johnson, also spring into Area 1 action today against Holbrook in Winslow.
Teams that win Area titles eventually advance to District showdowns where winners qualify for the granddaddy of Little League play — the state tournament.