Thirty-one slowpitch softball teams converge on Payson this weekend for the annual Home Runs For Vets Tournament.
Games begin at 8 a.m. both Saturday and Sunday, with a men’s championship and women’s championship game set for 5 p.m. Saturday. The women’s final is at Rumsey Field 1. The men’s championship game is at D-Backs Legends Field (formerly Kiwanis West).
With 15 participating teams, tournament founder Joshua Lyon said this is one of the largest women’s tournaments in the state and may be the largest.
Three teams from Payson are participating in the women’s tournament and four from Payson in the 16-team men’s tournament.
Home Runs For Vets is one of three annual tournaments Lyon runs each year in Payson to raise money for local veterans organizations and promote the growth of softball in Payson.
He said the Home Runs For Vets nonprofit has raised more than $13,000 in the four years they’ve held the tournaments. All profits from each tournament go to those Payson-area veterans’ organizations.
“This is our fifth year holding this tournament, which was the first one we put on,” Lyon said.
He’s held three tournaments for the last four years.
A home run derby is set to start at 7 p.m. on Saturday on Rumsey 2. The Payson event is unique differing from others around the state in that it features three-person teams competing against each other instead of the traditional individual tournament. It also features both men and women.
“We put up a women’s fence, so the women are a part of the home run derby, Lyon said.
The derby begins with the National Anthem and the Presentation of Colors by the Payson Honor Guard.
Lyon hopes to see a lot of Rim Country residents show up for the Home Run Derby and show their support for veterans and a fun event.
“We’re trying to raise money for veterans,” Lyon said. “Our hope is we get a lot of people from the community to come.
“People can donate per home run ball hit. They can call or email me about that or do it when they get there.”
Call Lyon at 509-999-3556 if you’d like to support the cause by donating money for each home run in the derby or for each hit by a particular team.
You’ll notice some players wearing arm sleeves, which signify they’re veterans. But Lyon estimates only 10-15 percent of players are veterans. Lyon would like to see more of them start playing.
“We hope to get vets out there because all the money we raise goes back to them,” Lyon said.
The veterans are at the center of all three annual tournaments Lyon runs — Beat The Heat, Payson Invitational and Home Runs For Vets.
All three tournaments raise money for veterans. But this is the only one with the home run derby, so the spotlight shines brightest on this one.
“We take pride in Payson veterans, so a lot of the things we do are unique and highlight veterans,” Lyon said. “It’s really a fun thing for us and a nice showcase for Payson to show our pride in veterans.”