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Justine Taylor, 14, readies herself on the blocks for a 50-yard butterfly event during the Verde Valley Invitational at the Cottonwood Community Pool on Saturday, July 30.Thirty years of competition has taken place in the pool for Northern Arizona swim teams at the Verde Valley Invitational, but there hasn’t been a team that dominated like the Clippers did this past weekend.

For the Cottonwood Swim Team, second-year Head Coach Erin Estes and her group of swimmers blew all attending teams out of the water like the last scene of “Jaws.”

The boys were most impressive for Cottonwood on Friday and Saturday, July 29 and 30, at the Cottonwood Community Pool, taking first overall with 1,019.50 points.

That total nearly doubles the score of second-place finisher Bullhead City Swim Team, which finished with 544 points.

The Sedona Swim Team finished third with 505 points while the Needles Swim Team took fourth with 490 points. The Prescott Valley Swim Team wrapped up the top five with 349 points.

For the girls, the Clippers were just as dominant, scoring 1,247 points for first place while Bullhead City took second with 672.

Sedona was third with 643, Needles was fourth with 381 and the Payson Swim Team was fifth with 351 points.

Altogether, the Clippers recorded 20 first-place finishes and had 56 medals combined, an impressive feat.

“They all looked good. We had a lot of swimmers in the pool over the weekend so it was impressive,” second-year Cottonwood Head Coach Erin Estes said.

Top performances for the Clippers include 8-year-old Cassidy Gallegos, who finished first overall in the 50-yard freestyle event with a 50.52 time.

Gunner Tillemans, 10, won the 50-yard freestyle with a 32.82 time while 14-year-old Anthony Wokasch took first with a 200-yard freestyle time of 2:18.20. Wokasch was first in the 1,650-yard freestyle event as well with a 21:58.33 time.

Tillemans also took first in the 100-yard individual medley with a 1:30.37 time and was first in the 25-yard butterfly event with a 18.83 time.

Other top performances include 8-year-old Bella Lockhart, who took first in the 25-yard backstroke event with a 24.07 time, while 10-year-old teammate Rylie Burke was first in the same event with a 20.49 time.

In the 50-yard backstroke event, 12-year-old Isaiah Wright was first overall with a 36.89 time while 17-year-old Kyla Furey was first in the same event with a 32.30 time.

Dylan Russett, 8, was first in the 25-yard butterfly with a 32.07 time and 14-year-old Francesca Settann was first in the 100-yard freestyle with a 1:06.75 time.

Former Mingus Union High School standout Sarah Raber, 19, was first in the 50-yard breaststroke event with a 34.91 time.

As for the relays, the Clippers won the 100-yard medley relay with a 1:24.16 time. Burke, Tillemans, 9-year-old Emma Warner and 10-year-old Fletch Fangman were on the team.

Wokasch and Settanni teamed with 14-year-old Justine Taylor and 13-year-old Sean Williams to take first in the 200-yard medley relay with a 2:21.30 time.

Shannon Knowles, 16, Ryan Adams, 16, Mikiel Block, 17, and 17-year-old Colin Mount were first in the 200-yard medley relay as well in their age group with a 1:58.72 time.

The Verde Valley Invitational is the last Clippers meet of the summer, but for many of the older swimmers, the Marauders’ swimming season begins next week.

Having been an umpire with Verde Valley Little League since 2003, current league President Jayne Lee admits to having been tagged by a ball or two over the years. “It’s the foul balls that get you,” Lee said Tuesday, July 26, while recalling some of the players she has watched grow up in the Verde Valley’s baseball and softball scene.The hardest-working people are usually the ones who get no credit, no pat on the back on a job well done, no limelight. Jayne Lee, a 49-year-old Cottonwood resident, certainly falls into this category.

In 2008, Lee was named Verde Valley Little League commissioner with the purpose of keeping the league going strong, and improving it whenever she could.

Sitting in the concrete stands just days after the Verde Valley Little League completed its season, Lee was happy to report another successful year.

“We did get the batting cage built, and we finally have a storage place for our equipment needs. We also put up an information case for the public,” Lee said.

“The kids had a great year on the field, too, with a few teams representing Cottonwood at various state tournaments. Our board was fantastic as well. Everyone chipped in and did their part. It’s one of the better Little League years for sure,” Lee added.

The Verde Valley Little League supports the play of over 400 kids from Cottonwood and its surrounding towns.

That’s 400 kids with 400 sets of parents and grandparents, friends and family.

That’s a lot to keep happy for Lee in one of the more thankless jobs in the country. Remember, Little League people are strictly on volunteer pay.

Born in Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., Lee went to Alta Loma High School before graduating in 1979. Lee never played sports in high school, but did play soccer and softball in the seventh and eighth grades.

“This was the ’70s. This is when girls just started to want to play sports. It was a very rural area too, so there wasn’t much to offer,” Lee said.

Instead of playing Little League softball like so many girls do today, Lee managed to hook on to Miss Softball America, a program for girls to play softball.

“Little League only started introducing softball for girls about 15 years ago,” Lee said sadly.

Lee eventually moved to Cottonwood in 1996 after having three kids and working at a local hospital in San Bernardino, Calif. She decided it was best to move to Cottonwood because it was a better place to raise a family.

Lee didn’t take long to get involved in the area, taking a job at a local hospital in admitting, and working at a family-owned liquor store. Lee also found work as a librarian.

By 1998, Lee decided it was finally time to get back into school and enrolled at Ottawa University Phoenix, a satellite campus for OU in Canada.

After eight long years, Lee graduated with a degree in elementary education in 2005 at the age of 43.

“I was working two jobs, raising three kids, participating in Little League and going to school at night,” Lee said with a big smile and sense of accomplishment.

Lee took most of her degree courses online, but did have to drive to Phoenix twice, sometimes three times a week, to attend class in the last year or so of her schooling.

“I was on the eight-year plan,” Lee laughed. “I know people that don’t have kids, don’t work like I do and still take that long to get a degree.”

As for softball in the Verde Valley, it wasn’t until 1999 the Verde Valley Little League started teams for girls at the age level. By 2008, Lee had done such a good job of getting the softball program off the ground that she was asked to be the commissioner.

She also began umpiring in 2003, something she still does to this day for local Little Leagues and state tournaments.

“I’ve worked several state and regional tournaments. I’m eligible to go to the World Series now if I get picked at the juniors level,” Lee said.

In her spare time, the little she has, Lee likes to go hiking and loves to travel. She recently took a trip to the Grand Canyon where she was able to do the river tour.

Lee also cheers on the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Diamondbacks, but said she doesn’t have much time to follow them.

Her greatest free time hobby however is to spend time with family.

“I also like to spend time with family. They are important to me. I don’t follow sports that much any more, just when my kids played them. I live through them,” Lee said.

Catcher Paige Church, center, shows her excitement before a District 10 tournament game June 24. Church was a big reason why the Camp Verde Majors All-Stars softball team made it to the state championship game July 15.A long, impressive run for a championship came to an end July 15 for the Camp Verde Majors All-Stars softball team [ages 11 to 12] as they were swept in a best of three series by the Sunnyside All-Stars, 2-0.

“Our goal was to teach the girls to be proud, hard-working and productive teammates on and off the field and I believe we accomplished that goal,” Camp Verde Head Coach Henry Smith said.

“Winning isn’t always about the final score; it’s about how you played the game. These young girls played with honor and respect,” he added.

Camp Verde was paired with the Sunnyside All-Stars in the championship series July 14 and lost the first game, 6-3.

The loss meant Camp Verde had to win the next one if it was to force a game three, but the girls in blue were unable to do so, losing 11-3.

Dusty Dowdle took the ball as the starting pitcher for Camp Verde and went six innings, allowing 11 runs on 11 hits while walking four and striking out five.

Offensive standouts included shortstop Nieja Garner who was 2-3 with an RBI and two runs scored while third baseman Taya Smith was 2-3 with a double and two RBIs.

Second baseman Gabrielle Ontiveros chipped in as well, going 2-3 at the plate against Sunnyside.

“I believe this was a season that they will remember forever,” Henry Smith said. “I just want to say thanks to the Camp Verde Little League for giving these kids an opportunity to play the game they love, and I want to thank the parents for their support. Also, I’d like to thank Raul Hatch and Christina Parker for helping us get to where we wanted to be.”

After winning the District 10 title at the beginning of July, Camp Verde continued its long winning streak in the first round of the Arizona Little League All-Stars State Tournament.

Camp Verde faced off against the Cactus Foothills All-Stars out of District 3 and had no problems July 6, winning 10-0.

In round two of the North Sectionals at Anthem Community Park, Camp Verde was given a scare July 8, but came out on top in a 3-2 win over the Blue Ridge All-Stars.

The two wins in pool play put Camp Verde against the Queen Creek All-Stars on July 12, a game which Camp Verde squeaked by in a 10-9 victory. The win advanced Camp Verde to the championship round against Sunnyside.

It’s been an interesting summer so far for Mingus Union High School Athletic Director Mike Boysen. He’s had a few head coach positions open up at the end of spring and has worked tirelessly to fill them.

Brian Herman was officially announced by Mingus Union High School Athletic Director Mike Boysen on July 13 as the new head volleyball coach for the Marauders. Herman played  volleyball in high school in Pennsylvania and was a Mingus assistant volleyball coach under Audrey Islas since 2008 before receiving the promotion.On July 13, Boysen officially ended the search for a new volleyball coach. He didn’t have to look far, naming three-year assistant coach Brian Herman the Marauders’ next head volleyball coach.

“I think he’ll do a good job for us. He’ll be just fine,” Boysen said Tuesday.

Herman took over for longtime Mingus Head Coach Audrey Islas on an interim basis halfway through the 2010 season, but the title was not official until this week.

Islas took a leave of absence from the school and decided to make it a permanent decision at the end of spring, leaving the Marauders without a volleyball coach.

At first, Herman wasn’t interested in the job, stating that he thought it was better for the school to find a teacher to replace Islas’ class load first, preferably a teacher who would want to coach volleyball as well.

Midway through July, it didn’t look like Boysen was going to find a suitable replacement, thus coming to Herman to help him out.

“They had trouble filling the slot. Ideally the school needs to find a teacher that can coach volleyball too. But, I’m glad to be the new head coach. I look forward to working with the girls,” Herman said Tuesday.

Not far from Philadelphia sits a little town called Lancaster, Penn., where Herman grew up.

Living in the Verde Valley is a little different than growing up on the East Coast. The long, cold, 12-foot snowdrift winters are no longer present, and neither are bodies of water for that matter.

Trading oak trees and miles of green for desert and a few cacti couldn’t have been easy, but so far, Herman is making do.

Herman graduated from Penn Manor High School in 1997 before moving on to Pennsylvania State University.

Herman lasted only a semester at PSU before deciding to follow his dream to become a pilot and an aerospace engineer. He moved to Prescott Valley in 1999 to attend Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

“I wanted to do it right and get into the flight program so I decided to move out here,” Herman said.

Herman lasted only two years in the program before dropping out due to financial reasons in 2001. He also met the love of his life in Kristy, who he married the same year.

“The student loans began to run out and I had huge bills so I had to stop. It was a tough decision,” Herman said.

Herman began work in a concrete masonry business his wife’s father owned, and has been doing it ever since. He is currently a concrete foreman. Herman and his wife Kristy have three children — Alek, 6, Anrika, 4, and Kalee, 3.

In high school, Herman played soccer and volleyball and was a second team All-Conference selection for volleyball his junior season.

Herman became interested in coaching volleyball at Mingus when he first moved to the Verde Valley 10 years ago, but never had the time to do so.

“I never had the time at first. But now, with the downturn in the economy, I have some time to work with the kids,” Herman said.

He joined the Mingus coaching staff in 2008 and has worked as the head assistant coach for three years until being named  head coach this week.

“I’d like to maintain the level of play Audrey [Islas] did here and I think I can do that. We expect to make state, we expect to compete and we want to continue to build a strong program here at Mingus,” Herman said.

In his spare time, Herman likes to still play volleyball, participating in local recreation leagues, and he hunts and fishes.

Herman is a big Nittany Lions fan and likes to follow the Arizona Cardinals football team.

“I’m happy to be here and I look forward to this opportunity,” Herman said.

Tommy McCarty throws a pitch against the Williams All-Stars batter during a game July 13. McCarty was 4-5 with four runs scored in the championship against the Chino Valley All-Stars on Friday, July 15. The Camp Verde All-Stars went 6-1 overall in the District 10 Arizona Little League All-Stars Tournament at Camp Verde High School to win the title.There’s nothing more disappointing in baseball than a balked-in run to end a game, especially when it’s for a championship.

Standing at third base as the winning run in the District 10 Arizona Little League All-Stars Tournament, Camp Verde Juniors All-Stars player Orlando Machado faked a steal to home plate, causing the Chino Valley All-Stars pitcher to flinch, leading to the balk call.

The flinch cost Chino Valley the game and the tournament title in what was one of the more disappointing endings to a game one could see.

Nevertheless, it made Camp Verde’s comeback complete as the boys in blue celebrated a District 10 title.

Needing every minute of time before curfew, Machado crossed home plate at 12:30 a.m. Saturday, July 16.

The two teams began play at 5 p.m. Friday, July 15, in game one of the championship. Coming from the losers bracket, Camp Verde needed to defeat Chino Valley twice to earn the title.

Camp Verde won game one, 14-12, forcing game two which Camp Verde eventually won, 12-11.

In the beginning of the District 10 tournament, Camp Verde lost to Chino Valley in round one, 3-2. The loss sent Camp Verde to the losers bracket, making them have to win four games just to get back to the championship.

“It was a difficult process,” Camp Verde coach Tom McCarty said.

In game two of the championship, starting pitcher Coy Dugan toed the mound and went 5? innings pitched while giving up seven runs on nine hits while striking out six.

“I was so impressed with Coy [Dugan]. He doesn’t pitch much at all for us. But because of having to play all those games in the losers bracket, we didn’t have any pitching left. So for him to go that long, and for us to win, that was impressive,” McCarty said.

In the fifth, Chino Valley tied it 7-7 after Dugan was removed. McCarty brought in relief pitcher Zach Collins who held serve — barely.

Tied 7-7, Camp Verde scored four runs in the bottom half of the sixth inning to take an 11-7 lead, but Chino Valley came right back against Collins to score four runs in the seventh, tieing it once again at 11-11.

Machado, who was 4-5 with three runs scored, recorded a base hit and made it to third base before scoring the winning run in the bottom of the seventh, making it 12-11, which was the final.

“He really put pressure on their pitcher and he faked him out big time. Orlando [Machado] did a great job in this series,” McCarty said.

Another standout at the plate offensively for Camp Verde was shortstop Tommy McCarty who was 4-5 with four runs scored, hitting an inside the park home run during the four-run rally in the bottom of the sixth. McCarty added a triple as well to his stellar night at the dish.

In the end, Camp Verde was able to raise the banner after an impressive 6-1 record in the District 10 tournament at Camp Verde High School.

Camp Verde was scheduled to begin the Arizona Little League State Tournament on Monday, July 18, at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick in Scottsdale. Results were unavailable at press time.

Tyler Kelly pitched his tail off Monday, July 11, in an 8-4 loss to the Camp Verde All-Stars. Kelly and his Verde Valley Majors All-Stars baseball team [ages 11 to 12] finished the District 10 Arizona Little League All-Stars Tournament with a 2-2 record.Despite having one of its best pitchers on the mound Monday, July 11, the Verde Valley Majors All-Stars baseball team [ages 11 to 12] was eliminated, 8-4.

“I’m happy with the kids, even though I don’t think they performed up to their ability,” Verde Valley Head Coach Creighton Kim said. “I am a little disappointed that things didn’t line up for us the way we hoped.”

At the District 10 Arizona Little League All-Stars Tournament in Prescott Valley on Monday, Verde Valley sent 11-year-old Tyler Kelly to the mound to face its crosstown rival, the Camp Verde All-Stars.

After throwing a zero up on the board in the first inning, Kelly went on to allow Camp Verde to score two runs in the second, and three runs each in the third and fourth innings and was chased from the game after 85 pitches.

Down 2-0, Verde Valley scored two runs in the bottom of the second inning to tie it, 2-2, but then gave up the three runs in the third and the fourth on several miscues, and trailed 8-4 which was the final.

Kelly went four innings, allowing eight runs, four of which were earned, on four hits and one walk while striking out six Camp Verde hitters.

Kim brought in 12-year-old relief pitcher Jordan Estrada who shut down Camp Verde in his one inning of work in the fifth.

In the sixth, 12-year-old Josh Cole did the same, keeping Verde Valley close, but in the end, the boys in red couldn’t get it done with the bats.

Standouts at the plate for Verde Valley included Kelly who was 3-4 on the game while 12-year-old third baseman Bailey Pelletier was 2-3 with two runs scored. Right fielder Tim Loper, 12, was 2-3 as well with two runs scored.

Verde Valley began its tournament with an impressive 7-0 win July 5 over the Chino Valley All-Stars, but lost July 6 to the Prescott Valley All-Stars, 10-5.

After beating the Wickenburg All-Stars on Saturday, July 9, 14-0, Verde Valley earned the right to play Camp Verde.

With the 8-4 loss to Camp Verde, Verde Valley finishes the District 10 Arizona Little League All-Stars Tournament with a 2-2 record.

Camp Verde went on to defeat the Prescott South All-Stars on Tuesday, July 12, 4-0, putting them in the District 10 championship game Wednesday, July 13, against Prescott Valley.

First pitch is scheduled for 5 p.m. Camp Verde will need to defeat Prescott Valley twice if it expects to win the title.

Ezekial Casillas looks to throw a Sedona All-Stars runner out at first base Saturday, July 9, in Prescott Valley. Casillas and the Camp Verde All-Stars are 3-1 in the District 10 Arizona Little League All-Stars Tournament.After losing its first game July 6 in the District 10 Arizona Little League All-Stars Tournament, the Camp Verde Majors All-Stars baseball team [ages 11 to 12] has won three straight to inch closer to its hopes of a title.

Camp Verde struggled against the Prescott Valley All-Stars on July 6 in round one of the district tournament, losing 17-4.

Since then, however, Camp Verde made quick work of the Dewey-Humboldt All-Stars on Thursday, July 7, defeating them 10-0.

Camp Verde beat rival Sedona All-Stars in the first game of a doubleheader Sunday, July 10, 10-0, then turned around and beat the Prescott North All-Stars in game two, 8-5.

The boys in blue had to wait a few days for the weather to cooperate at Mountain Valley Park in Prescott Valley, which is why they played two Sunday.

“There’s no doubt we played well,” Camp Verde Head Coach Craig Reddell said Sunday after the doubleheader when asked how his team played. “In today’s last game, we had one bad inning, but we did fine after that.”

Against Prescott North, Camp Verde starting pitcher Ezekial Casillas toed the mound, going four innings while allowing five runs.

Casillas struck out six and walked a pair in his four innings, throwing 84 pitches before being removed by Reddell.

Camp Verde scored two runs in each of the first and second innings to lead it 4-0 but the five-run bottom of the fourth for Prescott North chased Casillas from the game.

Beau Bullard took over and threw 19 pitches as the Camp Verde coaching staff looked to save him for their next game, going 1? innings, allowing one hit and striking out two.

Down 5-4, Camp Verde tallied one run in the top of the sixth to tie it 5-5, and the teams needed extra innings to decide things Sunday.

According to Reddell, relief pitcher Patrick Hood could receive player of the game honors, going the final 3? innings on the mound while allowing four hits and no walks while throwing only 26 pitches.

“Patrick [Hood] put a stop to it all and kept us in it. He did a great job,” Reddell said.

Hood’s efforts on the mound allowed Camp Verde to scored three runs in the top of the ninth to take an 8-5 lead, which would be the final.

With the win, Camp Verde improves to 3-1 in the District 10 tournament. Camp Verde continued tournament play Monday, July 11, but results were unavailable at press time.

Taya Smith demonstrates the power of her fastball during a Camp Verde-Verde Valley game at Riverfront Park on June 28. The two teams would meet in the championship, with Camp Verde winning the title.The Camp Verde Majors All-Stars softball team [ages 11 and 12] needed only four innings Thursday, June 30, to prove it was the better team, defeating the Verde Valley All-Stars in the District 10 Arizona Little League All-Stars Tournament championship, 22-2.

Camp Verde beat Verde Valley in the tournament semifinals June 28, 13-1, but made sure to hold the banner Thursday in a one-sided affair.

Kayla Hackett, left, tangles with Verde Valley All-stars pitcher Krista Earl at home plate during a game at Riverfront Park on June 28. The rest of the Camp Verde Majors All-Stars went on to win the District 10 title against Verde Valley, 22-2, on Thursday, June 30. “These girls played like they should. It’s a championship game and they played like it was the championship,” Camp Verde Head Coach Henry Smith said in the dugout Thursday after the game. Smith has coached this group since T-Ball, making it his sixth year coaching in Little League.

With the victory, Camp Verde finished the District 10 tournament with a perfect 4-0 record, having beaten the Prescott Valley All-Stars in round one [2-1], and the Williams All-Stars in the quarterfinals, 13-0.

In the four tournament games, Camp Verde outscored its opponents 50-4.

On Thursday, 12-year-old Dusty Dowdle toed the mound looking to shut down Verde Valley’s high-powered attack.

Verde Valley came into Thursday’s championship with a 2-1 record, having beaten Prescott Valley on June 29, 19-12.

Dowdle showed no fear against the Verde Valley lineup, pitching two strong innings while not allowing a run on no hits while striking out three batters.

In the top of the first, Camp Verde tallied four runs to take a 4-0 lead, then scored nine in the top of the second to give itself a commanding 13-0 advantage.

After her two innings, Dowdle gave way to 12-year-old relief pitcher Taya Smith, who went the remaining two innings.

The first two batters Smith faced recorded base hits in the bottom of the third inning, and both scored, but Smith settled down to allow only two runs on three hits while striking out three on the night.

Leading 14-2, Camp Verde scored eight more runs in the top half of the fourth, making it a 22-2 blowout.

In the fourth, Dowdle singled to left field to bring in two runs, which made it 17-2 at the time to put things out of reach for Verde Valley. Dowdle was 3-4 with a double, a triple, three runs scored and three RBIs in the winning effort.

Smith wasn’t half bad herself, going 2-4 with a double and three runs scored.

“If we play at this level, we can be good,” Henry Smith said.

Next up for Camp Verde is the Arizona Little League State Championships, scheduled to take place in Peoria. A date, time and location for Camp Verde’s first-round game in the state tournament was not released by press time.

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