Charlene Brown in not a happy tournament director.
Her derision is because the Rumsey I ball field is in such poor playing condition she must move all the Gracie Haught Classic softball tournament games originally scheduled there to another site — the Rumsey Kiwanis West Field. However, there was a possibility crews from the town and school could get the field in shape at the last minute. But if the improvements can’t be made in time, the alternative site will be used.
Rumsey I, the main playing field at the Payson park was rendered unplayable following the installation of new water lines that required trenching and other extensive work.
Brown said that switching games from Rumsey I to Kiwanis West would mean the portable outfield fence at Rumsey II would have to be move to the expansive West field because it actually is a baseball facility rather than designed for softball.
That means Rumsey II, where many of the Classic games are scheduled to be played, will be left without a homerun fence.
Today, March 22 (Friday), pool games that must now be played at Kiwanis West rather than at Rumsey 1 are:
• Apache Junction vs. Snowflake at 9 a.m.
• Tempe vs. Blue Ridge at 10:30 a.m.
• Benson vs. Tempe at 9 a.m.
• Payson vs. Round Valley at 1:30 p.m.
• Payson vs. St. Mary’s at 3 p.m.
• St. Johns vs. Estrella at 4:30 p.m.
Tomorrow, during bracket play, any games scheduled for Rumsey I will also be moved to Kiwanis West.
Championship and consolation bracket seeding, which will be based on the results of today’s pool play, will be announced at 7 p.m. this evening during an 8th inning social gathering for players and coaches.
The top two teams from each of the five pools will be seeded into the championship bracket and the third- and fourth-place teams from each pool will advance to the consolation bracket.
The social will be held in Payson High gymnasium and will be highlighted by the announcement of the winner of the “Spirit of Gracie Award.”
Last year, the inaugural award went to Benson High School. Since the inception of the Classic nine years ago, the Bobcat softball program has played a huge role in the tournament by donating thousands of dollars to the Gracie Lee Haught Children’s Memorial Fund.
Players doing odd jobs in the small Arizona town earned the money that has been donated.
Brown has often praised the Bobcat players for their generosity and work ethic.
The Classic, which was founded in 2005, has grown to become a jewel in the myriad of Rim Country sport and recreation offerings.
The first Classic featured just eight teams but has since grown to 20 teams from around Arizona and of all school size divisions.
Building the tournament into a top-notch event, Brown said, has been a way of honoring the memory of 3-year-old Gracie, who was killed Feb. 6, 2004 in a tragic accident in Star Valley.
At the time, her mother, Bobbie Jo Haught, was the Lady Longhorns’ junior varsity softball coach and the young girl was a frequent visitor to practices and games.
Following the toddler’s death, Brown and coaches at Payson High met to organize the memorial tournament.
The 2013 tournament culminates tomorrow, Saturday, with a championship game at 5:30 p.m. at the high school and a consolation championship showdown at 5:30 p.m. at Rumsey 2.
There is no spectator admission and snack bars will be set up at the Kiwanis and Rumsey 2 fields.
Tournament souvenirs will also be sold.