All-Stars Get Wins In Area Tourney


Hannah Bix shows the pitching form that has helped propel the Payson All-Star team to wins in the postseason Area 1 tournament.

Hannah Bix shows the pitching form that has helped propel the Payson All-Star team to wins in the postseason Area 1 tournament.

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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.

photo

Photo by Stacy North

Members of the Payson Major Division Little League Softball team include: (top, from left) Coach Bret Morse, Kara Ward, Reagan Weaver, Caroline Morse, Brylee Hall, Karlie Smith, Bethany Blanchard, Coach Brandon Moore, (bottom, from left) Vanessa Schuler, Savannah Conway, Katelyn Grant, Hannah Bix, Taryn North and Rachel Spooner.

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.

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