All-Stars’ Postseason Run Begins

Payson 11-12-years softball team takes the field today


All-Star players Emma Nelson (left) and Kalea Smith (right) practice for the upcoming Little League postseason.

All-Star players Emma Nelson (left) and Kalea Smith (right) practice for the upcoming Little League postseason. Photo by Andy Towle. |

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Payson Little League 11-12-years softball coach Andrew Newell is oozing with confidence that his All-Star team has the talent and determination to make a deep run into the postseason playoffs.

His confidence is due to the experience his celestial squad received in last season’s playoffs. “I have eight players returning from last year; I have pretty much my whole team back.”

The 2012 All-Stars, who were also coached by Newell, finished a highly commendable fourth in the Little League state tournament, which was one of the finest showings ever turned in by a Payson Little League team.

Newell’s confidence is also bolstered by several standout pitchers, which coaches and fans understand is the key to success in softball.

“I have four strong pitchers, really good ones,” Newell said.

Hurlers, however, are often only as good as their battery mates behind the plate.

There, Payson is well armed. “Our team has two of the best catchers that Payson Little League has seen in a long time,” said Newell.

Also bolstering playoff hopes is that the All-Stars who played under Newell during the regular season on the league champion Payson Thunder team, have loads of invaluable road experience.

“We (the Thunder) played 20 games and eight of them were out of town,” Newell said. “We were 7-1 out of town.

“I wanted to take my team on the road because I knew it would help them in All-Stars.”

Tara Smith and former Payson High football standout Jimmy Oestmann are helping Newell coach the All-Stars.

The Stars, fueled by the coolness and poise of their coaches, begin pursuit of Area 1 tournament honors at 7 p.m. today, Tuesday, June 25 at Rumsey I against the Winslow All-Stars.

If the Payson Stars win, they will advance to a second round tournament game at 3 p.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, June 26, against the winner of an opening round game pitting Flagstaff against Holbrook.

If Payson loses today to Winslow, the local Stars will play at noon tomorrow against the loser of the Flagstaff vs. Holbrook game.

The first team to win two games in the Area 1 tournament advances to the District 1 tournament, which tips off Saturday in Round Valley. A tournament win there would propel Payson into the state tournament that’s set to begin July 5 in Anthem.

“It’s a pretty quick turnaround from Area to State,” Newell said.

The ultimate goal of the Little Leaguers is to win the state tournament and advance to the Little League Softball World Series in San Bernardino, Calif.

Spectators are welcome to the Area 1 tournament games free of charge.

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