After a see-saw baseball season in which the Longhorns could never put together a succession of wins, the team has earned the right to participate in the Class 3A state tournament as the East region's third seed.
The Horns begin pursuit of what could lead to the school's second state title at noon today (Friday) at Peoria Sports Complex. On Padre Field No. 4, Payson will play North two-seeded Tuba City. A win there would send the Horns to the second round of state action at 10 a.m. Saturday. That game would be played on Mariners Field No. 3.
Also advancing to the state tournament from the East are league champion Show Low, runner-up Round Valley and four seed Pinnacle.
In the first round at state, Show Low plays Greyhills, Round Valley takes on Window Rock and Pinnacle challenges North champion Winslow.
During the regular season, the Longhorns played to two ties one against Round Valley and the other against Pinnacle that were not extended into extra innings because the field the contests were played on did not have lights.
At the conclusion of the season, coach Teddy Pettet and athletic director Dave Bradley predicted the two ties would have to be played off at a neutral site.
However, East ADs decided the state seeds involving Payson and Round Valley could be distributed without a playoff.
Because the Elks had a better region record than Payson, the Elks got the second seed.
The third seed into the state tournament went up for grabs Monday in a playoff involving Pinnacle and Payson. The game resumed, exactly as it ended earlier this season, in the top of the eighth inning with scored tied 4-4.
The Longhorns tallied a pair of runs, then shut Pinnacle out in the bottom of the frame to salvage a 6-4 victory and earn the third seed.
Immediately after that game, Pinnacle edged past Snowflake in another playoff of a regular season tie to earn the East four seed.
With the loss, Snowflake stays home.