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Full fledged Amateur Softball Association (ASA) tournament action returned to the Rim Country July 27-28 with 16 teams from around the state clashing in the “End of Summer Madness” girls fast pitch showdown.
Playing on three fields at Rumsey Park, teams in five ages groups — 10u, 12u, 14u and 16u — battled for bragging rights and prized tournament hardware.
While most of the tournament went off without a hitch, some late Saturday games had to be postponed and replayed early Sunday morning due to monsoon downfalls that drenched Payson rendering the fields unplayable.
Most of the participating teams were from the Valley and Yuma, but Payson did enter a team, the Lunachics, in the 12u division.
The team dropped both its pool play games on Saturday and on Sunday was eliminated from the tournament by a 10-0 loss to Yuma.
Despite being blanked, the Lunachics put on a spirited performance playing against traveling club teams that have the advantage of drawing players from a huge population base.
The End of Summer Madness was the only ASA tournament held in Payson this season.
That’s in sharp contrast to yesteryear when Payson was a frequent tournament host and at one time was second only to Prescott in the race for the unofficial title of “Arizona’s Softball Capital.”
Some parents and spectators who attended the End of Summer Madness praised the Rumsey Park facilities and the cool weather.
“It’s so beautiful here secluded among the pine trees and the temperatures are much cooler than the Valley,” said Valley resident Andrew Walton. “This is the perfect place for softball.”
Some who attended also took the opportunity to turn the event into a weekend camping trip.
Chandler resident David York, a team father, and his family camped at Woods Canyon Lake and managed to squeeze in some trout fishing between softball games.
The tournament was be the largest held in Rim Country since July 2011, when Payson hosted the ASA JO Fast Pitch “B” state championship tournament.
That tournament attracted 2,000-plus visitors to the area filling motels, campgrounds and restaurants with herds of athletic young women and their families and friends.