Sports & Recreation

The Fat Dawg’s Ballerz player slides into home plate before the throw from the outfield arrives.

PLAY BALL! Native American Baseball Players Participate in the D-Backs Inter-Tribal Tournament and NABI Invitational

By Jennifer Jimenez, Tasha Silverhorn, and Richie Corrales
Au-Authm Action News

The 13th Annual Arizona Diamondbacks Inter-Tribal Youth Baseball and Softball Invitational Tournament took place during the week of July 18-23. Tournament games took place throughout the Valley, including on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. The tournament ended with four division-champion teams: the Salt River Little Indians, champions for the Single A Division; the Tota Warriors, champions for the Double A Division; the Tempe Bandits, champions for the Triple A Division; and Native Thunder, champions for Triple A Softball Division.

Many youth from the Community played on nine different teams in three divisions: the Salt River Sandlots, Salt River Little Indians (Single A Division), Salt River Sidewinders, Salt River Onk-Akimel O’odhams (Single A Division), Salt River Outlawz, Salt River Fat Dawgs Ballerz, Salt River Onk-Akimel O’odhams (Double A Division), Salt River Indians (Double A Division) and Native Gurlz (softball).

Single A Division
Salt River Sandlots

The Salt River Sandlots took on the Shiprock Angels in the first game of the tournament. In the first inning, the Sandlots allowed five runs to score and the inning came to an end on the five-run limit rule per inning. In their first at-bats, they were unable to put together any offense, but put forth a great effort. They were defeated by the Angels 18-1. They took on the White Mountain Apaches in their second game, and fell 14-0. In their final game of pool play, they were winners by forfeit of the Native Diamond Backs team.

Salt River Little Indians
The Salt River Little Indians took on the Southwest Natives in their first game and shut them out 10-0. In their second game, they took on the St. Michaels D-Backs and defeated them 8-1.

In their third game they went up against the Chinle Bad Boyz at the Matt Mantei Field and defeated them 16-3. The Little Indians went up early 3-0. Their first run was scored on a pass ball, followed by an RBI double and RBI single to left-center field to get the early lead. The Natives were unable to produce offensively, and the Little Indians added four runs in the top of the second inning. The first batter for the Little Indians doubled to left center, and then the next two batters hit RBI doubles, scoring one run and then two more runs. In the top of the third inning, five additional runs were scored by the Little Indians.

The Little Indians advanced to bracket play and took on the Native Yankees on July 22 at 7 p.m., winning 9-3.

In the championship game on July 23, the Indians played against the White Mountain Apaches and defeated them, 7-3. Community Member Eric Makil took home the Most Valuable Player award. Last year and the year before, his brother Aaron took home the Most Valuable Player trophy while playing in the tournament on the same team.

Salt River Sidewinders
The Salt River Sidewinders won their first game 10-4 against the Stotonic Rebels. They then lost their second game 12-2 to the Native Yankees. They lost their third game to the Salt River Onk-Akimel O’odhams 13-3. In their fourth game, the Sidewinders were defeated 11-3 by the Parker Little Braves and they did not qualify for the bracket-play portion of the tournament.

Salt River Onk-Akimel O’odhams
The Salt River Onk-Akimel O’odhams won a close game in their first appearance in the tournament, defeating the Parker Little Braves 7-6. They were then defeated 8-6 by the Stotonic Rebels. The Native Yankees also defeated the O’odhams, 5-4, in their third game. They moved on to play the Salt River Sidewinders in their final game of pool play and defeated them 13-3. After the bottom of the third inning, the O’odhams were leading 7-0. In the top of the fourth inning, one of the Sidewinders players nailed a triple over the center-fielder’s head, but his courtesy runner was tagged out as he ran to third and slid into the tag. The next batter hit a RBI triple and scored two runs, followed by another run scoring on another triple to trail 7-3. The O’odhams added six runs in the bottom of the fourth inning and ended up winning the game 13-3.

Salt River Outlawz
This was the first year as a team that the Outlawz participated in the D-Backs Inter-Tribal Tournament. They racked up two wins and one loss during pool play.

During their first game against the Shiprock Lobos, the Outlawz made a home run and won 7-5 in overtime. In their second game, against Naataanii, the Outlawz lost 7-2.

“We hope to have more outfield practice and correct our errors and come in swinging,” said Outlawz Coach Dallin Wood, hoping for a positive outcome for their third game, which was later that evening. With Wood’s positive prediction, the Outlawz beat the Chinle White Sox 7-4 in their last pool game.

Unfortunately, the Outlawz needed three straight wins to make it to the championship bracket.

Double A Division
Salt River Fat Dawgs Ballerz

The Salt River Fat Dawgs Ballerz played against the Trinity River Natives at Salt River Fields. Trinity River got two runs in with the first two batters, and soon all their players started hitting to the fence. The Ballerz struggled to catch the balls as they flew in their direction or as they flew to the outfield. By the bottom of the second inning, Trinity River had about 15 runs and the Ballerz two. The game ended with a final score of 19-2 in favor of the Trinity River Natives.

Salt River Onk-Akimel O’odhams
The Salt River Onk-Akimel O’odhams played against the Page Native All-Stars, and this game had its moments of intensity, both from the crowd in the stands and the players. The day before, the O’odhams had played against the Trinity River Natives and won 6-2, and looked forward to beating the Page team, which had not yet won a game. But that afternoon Page won the game by eight runs and the O’odhams came in with only two runs. Both teams played like professionals.

Salt River Indians
The Salt River Indians took on Oregon “Mad Dopeness” Tribe and defeated them 12-2 in their first game of the tournament on July 20. On July 21, the Indians won by forfeit against the Big Tule Yokuts. In the evening they played against the Awa’alas and beat them 11-2.

After advancing to bracket play, the Indians played against Top Dawgz on July 22 and lost, 9-5. They advanced to play in the third-place game and defeated the Page Native All-Stars 5-4 to finish in third place in the tournament.

Triple A Softball
Native Gurlz

The Native Gurlz participated in the softball pool play with their first game against Hualapai, winning 15-5. In their next game, they took on Gallup Dynamite and were shut out 8-0. In their final game of pool play, the Native Gurlz also lost, to Desert Heat, 7-5. The team did not qualify for bracket play.

At Chase Field on Saturday, July 23, things wrapped up with Native American Recognition Day and the Parade of Teams. The participating baseball and softball teams were introduced and walked out onto the field in front of a crowd of about 20,000 baseball fans. Each team carried a banner with their team name and tribal affiliation, along with the trophies they won in the tournament. The tribes also took turns displaying some of their traditional talents, from singing to dancing.

That afternoon, the teams and all the other spectators got to watch the Colorado Rockies play against the Arizona Diamondbacks; the D-Backs won, 12-3.

PLAY BALL! Native American Baseball Players Participate in the D-Backs Inter-Tribal Tournament and NABI Invitational
Salt River Teams Compete in Lori Piestewa Games
All-Star Week Jr. RBI Classic
Right Way, Wrong Way: Proper Workout Technique