One game stands between the Lady Longhorns and their first 3A East region softball championship. The deciding game is at 4 p.m. today (Friday, April 26) against Show Low on the Show Low junior high field.
Payson has not seen action against Show Low since April 9 when they lost to the White Mountain team 4-3 in Payson. Show Low has one loss to Snowflake. However, Payson has defeated Snowflake three times this season, twice in league play and once in a tournament.
The game will not only decide the region champion, but the right to enter the state tournament next week as the top seed. The Lady Horns have been preparing for the match, having played five games in as many days.
Payson placed third in the Page Jack-In-The-Box Tournament last weekend. Fourteen teams from Arizona, Utah and New Mexico participated in the round-robin format.
Payson defeated Monument Valley (12-2) and Greyhills (10-0), lost to Farmington, N.M. (9-1), and then rallied to beat Mingus (2-0) in the final game.
Apollo, a 4A team out of Phoenix, won the tournament, 1-0, in the championship game against Farmington.
Pitcher Brenna Zumbro and shortstop Brooke McRae were named to the all-tournament team.
The Lady Horns' strong pitching combination of Zumbro and Rachel Ray continued to dominate at the tournament.
Zumbro pitched in the Greyhills and Mingus games, combining for 14 strike-outs while Ray pitched to Monument Valley and Farmington sending 17 batters back to the dugout.
Jennifer Plumb, a senior, led the team's batting average with a .571 followed by Staci Scholl at .500 and Laura Crabtree with a .455 average.
The Lady Horns traveled to Pinetop-Lakeside Tuesday for a conference match and shutout the Blue Ridge team, 6-0.
Rikki Ray, a freshman, played shortstop for Payson and was the team's spark plug offensively with two singles and four runs batted in.
Doni Miotto, a sophomore right fielder, also contributed in the lead-off position of the batting order with a perfect on-base percentage in her four at bats. Miotto singled once during the outing and forced infield errors three times with her quick speed from the plate to first base.
Rachel Ray started the game on the mound, however, suffered a shoulder injury during her windup in the second inning. Zumbro finished the game and was credited with the win.
The 3A State Softball Tournament starts Friday, May 3 at the Rose Mofford complex in Phoenix.
If Payson is successful in its quest for the 3A East title, they will play the No. 4 team from the West at 3 p.m. A loss to Show Low today, will pit Payson against the No. 3 seed from the West at 5 p.m.