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In a seven-team race to win the Verde Valley Invitational, the Cottonwood Clippers got the sweep in before the strike.

Caleb Furey, 17, swims for the Cottonwood Clippers. Furey prepared for his Marauders senior season by finishing third among all 15- to 18-year-olds to help the Clippers win the Verde Valley Invitational.

Lightning strikes, to be exact, led the head coaches to agree to call the invitational Saturday, July 18, with the Clippers ahead in the boys, girls and overall categories.

With 250 swimmers from Bullhead City, Kingman, Payson, Prescott Valley and Sedona as well as the Sandsharks of Needles, Calif., involved, nobody wanted to take any chances.

“Five years ago ... it rained the whole time,” head coach Daniel Nevarez said. “But we never stopped the meet.

“When it comes to lightning, with it being so unpredictable and lives are at risk, we have to be overcautious.”

Zoey Arwine, Rylie Burke, Gunner Tillemans and Sean Williams led the Clippers with high-points victories in each of their age groups, as the Clippers swept the boys, girls and overall titles of the invitational.

“Having so many great teams here this year with amazing talent did make the competition a lot tougher,” Nevarez said.

For the full story with more photos, please see the Wednesday, July 22, issue of the Cottonwood Journal Extra.

Shortstop Amanda Cannon doubled home third baseman Russ Hardy to cap a four-run comeback by Harris Garage Door, which secured the top summer coed softball seed July 15 with a 22-21 win over Cemex in nine innings.

Jennifer McDonald steps up to bat for Cemex, the second-place team in the Camp Verde coed softball league heading into the playoffs. McDonald and Cemex lost, 22-21, to first-place Harris Garage Doors on July 15.
Hardy was the last of four runs to score, all with no outs, for Harris, which avenged its only loss and dropped Cemex to 7-3 and second place in the league, presented by the Camp Verde Parks and Recreation department.

“We feel like we won that game three times,” said Lizbeth Fullbright, head coach and pitcher for Harris, which entered the bottom of the ninth down three runs. “It was pretty late by the time we were done.”

Harris can win the Camp Verde coed softball league crown for the third straight year if the team wins the championship, which will begin at 8 p.m. Wednesday, July 22, at Butler Park.

“We’ve won championships before in Camp Verde — the core of our team was the same,” Fullbright said. “I know Cemex is very good and also very competitive, but if we’re hitting and we’re good on our defense, we’ll be good.
“Some nights, you’re just off or could go either way, but I have confidence in the team I have right now.”

Also scoring were Fullbright’s courtesy runner, Jamie Emory, Fullbright’s daughter, Cherise, and first baseman Chad Harris — son of company owner and team sponsor Jeff Harris.

For the full story and more photos, please see the Wednesday, July 22, issue of the Camp Verde Journal.

At Fort Verde State Park, everyone can travel back to 1871 to play baseball in its original form Saturday, July 18, at the Camp Verde Cornfest.

Zach Brutsche prepares to swing the bat for the Fort Verde Excelsiors in a vintage baseball game during Cornfest. The Excelsiors are looking for locals wishing to play old-time baseball at noon Saturday, July 18, at the Fort Verde parade grounds.
Scheduled for a noon start as part of the two-day series of events, the Fort Verde Excelsiors feature Fort Verde rangers, volunteers and other local players playing baseball just like enlisted men did 144 years ago on the fort’s parade grounds.

“It’s not a watered field,” said Robert Jennings, park ranger and center fielder for the Excelsiors. “If it was a dry season, it would be dusty; if it was monsoon season, it would be really green.

“It’s not chalked out. The horses ride on it and expose rocks, so they played rock patrol to keep the parade grounds clean. We pick up the rocks too and move them off the field, then just drop the bases at the right distance and play.”

Aside from the participation of women and lack of gloves, the rules are little different otherwise for the seven-inning contest.

For more photos and the full story, please see the Wednesday, July 15, issue of the Camp Verde Journal.

A year after last summer’s lower-key Verde Valley Invitational, seven teams and 250 swimmers will be competing Saturday, July 18, in what will be a “very bittersweet” final home meet for Cottonwood Clippers head coach Daniel Nevarez.

Rylie Burke, 14, swims for the Cottonwood Clippers. Burke is one of the Clippers’ student volunteer coaches who will also be swimming Saturday, July 18, in the Verde Valley Invitational, beginning at  8:30 a.m. It will be the final home swimming meet after four years under Daniel Nevarez, who is leaving the Clippers after four seasons as head coach.
At the Cottonwood Outdoor Pool, 35 swimmers 8 years old and younger from Bullhead City, Kingman, Payson, Prescott Valley, Sedona and Needles, Calif., will be competing in the invitational, which will start at 8:30 a.m.

“We haven’t had a VVI this big in three years,” Nevarez said. “We even tried to get the Flagstaff Lumberjacks down. So we’re praying the weather holds up.”

Nevarez, a full-time property manager and realtor, told his swimmers in mid-May that, for personal and professional reasons, this summer would be his last as Clippers head coach after seven years.

“This was the hardest decision I’ve had to make in my life,” he said. “I’m getting my broker’s license and I have the opportunity to do property management and sales.

“In an un-perfect world, I can’t do both [that and coaching]. So this is not a decision I came by lightly. I just feel like there are new opportunities for me with my job that I’m excited to proceed with.”

No rain could stop YES the Arc from emerging clean Friday, July 10, from eight games against five local churches in their summer league, presented by the Cottonwood Parks and Recreation department.

During the Cottonwood Parks and Recreation department’s church spring league game Friday, July 10. Verde Valley Baptist Church’s Anthony Franklin, right, tagged first a split-second before Paul Ventura, of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church, caught the ball. The league was resurrected by the Cottonwood Recreation Center after a two-year hiatus.Despite multiple Friday night rainouts which limited half of the league’s six teams to six games or less, Verde Baptist Church and a second team from Verde Valley Christian Church also emerged from the Riverfront Park softball fields with successful records in the first local church league since 2012.

“It’s really more of a community integration activity for our members,” said Mark Soto, head coach of YES the Arc and the human resources and program coordinator for the local center for adults with developmental disabilities. “I talk to the head coach before the game and say, ‘Have you played us before?’

“Usually, he’ll say, ‘Yeah, just go out there and have fun.’”

Soto credits Jack Teel, recreation coordinator for sports and special events for the Cottonwood Recreation Center, for taking “the bull by the horns, went out and put positive stuff out there to get the churches to come together” for the Friday night church league after a two-year absence.

“A lot of our members go to these churches and the league helps us come out and interact with them on a different level,” Soto said. “We’ve always been that team.”

In fact, even in the two years before the league’s resurrection, YES the Arc would regularly find seven other teams in the community to play games of nine-on-nine with at Riverfront Park, Soto said.

For the full story and final league standings, please see the Wednesday, July 15, issue of the Cottonwood Journal Extra.

The Verde Valley Little League Juniors team played well into the night on Tuesday but was eliminated from the District 10 playoffs when Wickenburg scored a run in the bottom of the seventh inning to take a 6-5 win. Zach Harrison, of the Verde Valley Majors, arrives safely at home as the Camp Verde catcher reaches high for the throw to plate in their playoff game July 1 at Riverfront Park. VVLL easily defeated Camp Verde, 16-5, to advance to the next round.

The game, which started at 7:30 p.m. in Bagdad, ended at 11:15 p.m., according to head coach Shawn Zingali.

It only took three years, but talent may have finally caught up with coaching in the Camp Verde High School boys basketball program.reyes herrera, a junior forward for Camp Verde High School, floats a shot in the paint over Sedona Red Rock High School junior post Walker Cox. Herrera has developed this summer into a primary big man in the paint for head boys basketball coach Dan Wall.

Incoming senior and leading scorer Javier Perez averaged more than 20 points per game to propel the Cowboys to six wins in their last seven games of the summer.

Brian Dubasik, Hayden Uhler and Dale Zellner showed June 27 why Weekend Wars continues to be the venue for boys to discover wrestling and men to be discovered as wrestlers.Team Chagolla’s Daniel White, top, wrestled against Hunnter Rowse, from Bayfield, Colo. White, an incoming junior at Camp Verde High School, took fourth place at 110 pounds in Weekend Wars.

"Most wrestlers want to know how they can be discovered," said Mario Chagolla Sr., Camp Verde High School assistant coach and director of Weekend Wars.