Payson High’s baseball season doesn’t officially begin until the Longhorns participate in next week’s Fountain Hills Invitational on Wednesday and Friday.
And PHS doesn’t open the home schedule until entertaining Cottonwood Mingus on March 6.
But fans can get a preview of what’s expected to be a strong team in the Second Annual Sunflower Seed Scrimmage at 10 a.m. Saturday at PHS. A pack of sunflower seeds gains a spectator admission to the game featuring varsity and junior varsity players split up into equal teams.
It’s a take on the old high school football soap scrimmages of years past when a bar of soap the players would later use in the postgame shower was the price of admission.
“We are instead asking for sunflower seed donations from fans,” said second-year head coach Brian Young. “Then the players eat the sunflower seeds throughout the season during games.
“The scrimmage is a lot of fun. It gives fans a good chance to see what the players in our program will look like this season. We will use a variety of pitchers and some players will play multiple positions as coaches continue to evaluate players and where they will best help our team.”
With temperatures expected to be in the high 60s and little chance of rain, the coach is hoping for a big crowd.
“We would love to have a good crowd,” Young said. “It should be a lot of fun for fans to see their first competitive baseball in Payson this season.”
Young started the event, at least the unique admission part of it, in his first season as head coach last year. And what a year it was. The Longhorns went 20-10, reaching the Division III state semifinals. They knocked out No. 1 Show Low in the quarterfinals.
With just two seniors on the 2013 roster, PHS has the kind of experience and talent to make a run at its first state championship since 1999.
So head down to the store, buy a pack of sunflower seeds for every member of your family and head on over to the diamond Saturday morning to watch the start of what could be a very special season.