To say Payson Little League president Keely Parker is excited about tomorrow’s (April 6) opening day festivities would be putting it mildly.
She is actually ecstatic to get the campaign under way after working for months laying down the foundation by registering players, conducting tryouts, hosting fund-raisers and scouring the town for officials and parent volunteers.
“I am hoping for awesome weather and a great turnout,” Parker said.
Activities will include a full slate of games, team photos, silent auctions, raffles, snack bar, a carne asada stand and opening ceremonies from 1:15 p.m. to 2:12 p.m. at Rumsey Park.
Opening day games begin at 8 a.m. with the Grasshoppers and the Dirt Diamonds of the softball minor league clashing on Rumsey II and the Red Sox and Diamondbacks of baseball’s minor division meeting on Rumsey III.
Action continues unabated until the final game at 7 p.m. that pits baseball major division teams the Tigers and Diamondbacks against one another on Rumsey III.
This year, the Little League baseball and softball programs have attracted 220 players to five major league baseball teams, five minor league baseball teams and five coach-pitch baseball squads.
In softball, Payson will field two major and three minor softball teams.
At the end of April, Payson Little League will host tryouts for the Juniors (13 years) Little League program.
Also, Parker has been exploring the possibility of hosting a first-ever intermediate baseball league for 11-13-year-olds.
Parents interested in enrolling their children in the new league should attend a parent information meeting to be held at 6 p.m., Tuesday, April 9 at Rumsey Park.
The Intermediate, or 50/70 division, bridges a player’s transition from Little League (40/60) Minor/Major play to Junior League Baseball, which is played on a full-sized (60/90) field and with different rules.
On an intermediate division field, the pitching distance is 50 feet and distance between bases is 70. The recommended distance from home plate to the outfield fence is 200 to 275 feet.
Which means an intermediate game is played on a field larger than the traditional Minor/Major Little League field, but not quite as large as a conventional diamond on which high school baseball is played.
In the new division, which is for players 11 to 13 years old with advanced skills, the rules will also be closer to high school baseball regulations allowing pick-off attempts and leading off bases.
Free fishing tomorrow
The annual Rim Country Optimist Club Kids Fishing Festival, which is sure to draw throngs of young anglers, gets under way at 8 a.m. tomorrow, April 6 at Green Valley Park.
No fishing license is required for registered participants. In addition to free fishing on the GVP Lakes, there will be fishing clinics conducted by Arizona Game and Fish officers and members of Trout Unlimited.
Also there will be a silent auction, raffles and music provided by DJ Craig.
The Optimist and Rotary will host food booths offering hamburgers, hot dogs and drinks.