Several Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community baseball teams participated in the games of the fifth annual Arizona Diamondbacks and NABI (Native American Baseball Invitational) tournament, which were played at the Salt River Ball Field and at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick July 18-21. The Salt River Little Indians, Lil Nations, Sidewinders and Akimel O’odhams participated in the Single A Division of the tournament. The Little Indians came up as champions of their division, and Community member Eric Makil won the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in that division.
Salt River Lil Nations
The Lil Nations lost their first game against the Central Navajo Braves. The Braves took the lead by three runs and held on, winning the game 9-4. In their second game, the Lil Nations blew out the T.O. Yankees, winning that game 15-4, and in their third game they lost to the New Mexico Firebirds, 3-13.
Salt River Sidewinders
The Sidewinders lost in an upset in their first game of the Single A Division Pool against Naa’taanii, 20-0. The team continued to go up against some tough competition, losing their next two games. In their second game they went head to head with the Hualapai Rez Boys, losing 8-11, and in their third game they struck out against the Chui Chu Cowboys, 18-5.
Salt River Akimel O’odhams
This team met some pretty tough competition in the Single A Division, playing their first game against the Shiprock Angels. The O’odhams fell short, losing the game 14-3. In their next game, they played against the Window Rock Royals, losing 6-11, and in their third game they lost to Maricopa Pride, 11-7.
Salt River Little Indians
The Single A Division reigning champions, the Salt River Little Indians were on a roll, beating Chinle Badd Boyz 0-3 in their first game on Wednesday, July 18. They defeated Shadow in their next game, 1-9, and in their final Single A Division Pool game they beat the Kirtland Braves, 7-2.
Winning all three games in the Single A Division, the Little Indians moved on to the Single A Division Championship bracket. In their first game they blew out the Shiprock Angels, 1-11. They went on to play the New Mexico Firebirds in the championship game, holding onto the championship title of the Single A Division by five runs, 5-10.
Triple A Division Pool
In the Triple A Division Pool play there were two teams with players representing the Community, Salt River Hit It and Quit It and the Mesa Indians.
Salt River Hit It and Quit It
Hit It and Quit It went 1-2. In their first game they played against the Arizona Blue Devils, losing 11-2. In their second game they beat Hopi 8-0, and in their third game they lost to the Mesa Indians, 6-11.
The Mesa Indians won all their games in the Triple A Pool. In their first game, they beat the Dust Devils 4-19. In their second game, the Indians beat Hopi 3-0, and in their third game they struck out Salt River Hit and Quit It, 6-11.
The Indians moved into the Triple A Division Championship bracket, playing their first game against the New Mexico Roadrunners. The Roadrunners beat the Indians 4-8, moving the Indians down for a chance for third place in the tournament. The Indians then played against the Colorado River Braves, beating the Braves 4-8, which gave the Indians the third-place title.
On July 21, the Arizona Diamondbacks hosted Native American Recognition Day at Chase Field, with tribal communities from around the Valley displaying their dances on and off the field. That evening the Diamondbacks played against the Houston Astros and won 9-2. The teams from the invitational got free seats to the Diamondbacks game.
“It feels great,” said Makil when asked how he felt about receiving MVP in his division. He held his trophy up with pride around the Chase Field stadium, where they called his name during Native American Recognition Day.