Their baseball counterparts must wait more than two weeks to resume East play, but as early as Friday, the Lady Longhorn softball squad will have the opportunity to push their regional credentials to 2-0.
That's when East rival Round Valley visits Longhorn field for a 3:30 p.m. game that will represent only the second trek into regional play for rookie head coach Will Dunman.
His first taste of East action was Feb. 29 at PHS field in a 16-3 season-opening thumping of the Alchesay Falcons.
Following the softball showdown turned Lady Horn track meet, Dunman admitted the Falcons just didn't have the talent or wherewithal to provide much competition.
A closer game, he says, would have given him a better chance to evaluate how his team will perform under pressure.
Although Round Valley is somewhat of an unknown in East regional play, Dunman anticipates the Elks will provide his team a much tougher test than did Alchesay.
In the humbling of Alchesay, the new coach did have the opportunity to assess the abilities of his two top hurlers -- Sidney Swartwood and Tiffany Lubken. His third pitcher, freshman Rachel Ray, did not see varsity action. Swartwood, a returning letter-winner, drew the starting nod and after pitching four full frames was credited with the victory. During her stint on the hill, she struck our six, walked four and allowed two runs.
After giving up a run on two singles in the first inning and uncorking two wild pitches in the second, Swartwood set the side down in order in both the third and fourth innings.
The fourth frame turned into the Sidney-show when Swartwood K'd three consecutive Falcon hitters. In relief, Lubken pitched the final inning before the slaughter was ended on the 10-run rule. Facing five batters, Lubken gave up one run and walked two.
Offensively, the Horns were led by their numbers two and three hitters --Raeanne Burba and Jamie Peace. In three appearances each at the plate, both cranked a single and a double. Peace scored three runs and Burba two.
In addition to her pitching prowess, Swartwood -- batting in the lead off position -- swatted a triple and scored three runs.
In preseason drills, the Lady Horn players predicted their defense would be one of the best in the region. By committing just one error against the Falcons, those prognostications proved on target.
However, the Lady Horn "D" still has to prove it can handle the hot shots off the bats of the beasts of the East when Snowflake and Show Low bring their talented acts to town.
Both teams are seasoned by years of state tournament experience and are projected to again earn berths into the season-ending big show.
Following Friday's game against Round Valley, the Lady Horns will not return to action until March 17 when the St. Johns Redskins visit Payson.
During that week of inactivity, the Payson School District will be in spring break recess.