Junior Rachel Ray suffered a season-ending injury to her right shoulder April 23 in the Lady Horns game against Blue Ridge. Ray, who has been sharing duties on the mound with sophomore Brenna Zumbro, was in the middle of her wind-up when she "felt and heard" something pop in her shoulder.
An MRI two days later confirmed the team's worst fears: Ray had suffered a torn rotator cuff. It has yet to be determined whether surgery will be required.
The injury not only side-lined Ray for the state tournament, it dashed all hopes of playing club ball on the junior olympic circuit this summer.
Ray has given the Longhorns stellar performances on the mound with her 61 mph fast ball, drop ball and 41 mph change up that more often than not saw batters fanning at thin air.
Ray's injury was not the only disappointment of the week. Payson's hopes for a regional title were dashed Friday, April 26 when they lost a heart-breaker to the Show Low Cougars, 3-1.
The game started out with a pitching duel between Zumbro and the Cougar's Bobbi Jo Merrill. Both teams were scoreless until the bottom of the fourth inning when Merrill drove Zumbro's first pitch over the left field fence for the first run of the game.
Payson answered the call in the top of the fifth inning when junior Laura Crabtree doubled to right field and then scored when sophomore Staci Scholl hit a ball back to the mound forcing a throwing error by Merrill to first base.
With the score tied, 1-1, Show Low scrambled for two more runs off one hit and three errors by Payson's infield in the bottom of the fifth frame. Payson managed to get three runners on base in the sixth and seventh innings, but could not get the ball out of the infield to score the needed runs to tie or go ahead in the game.
The Lady Horns will now set their sights on the state tournament. They will see first round action at 5 p.m. Friday, May 3 at the Rose Mofford Complex. Payson will play the No. 3 team Camp Verde out of the West region. A win would throw the Lady Horns into the second round of play Saturday morning at 10 a.m. against the winner of the north one and south four.
If they make it through games one and two, they will advance to the final four Friday, May 10.
McRae, Owens to sign with Mesa college
Seniors Brooke McRae and LeeAnn Owens plan to sign a softball scholarship at Mesa Community College for the 2002-2003 season.
McRae, the Lady Longhorns' shortstop, is sporting a batting average of .391 and an on-base percentage of .580.
Owens the team captain who also holds down the hot spot at first base is close behind McRae offensively with a batting average of .353 and an on-base percentage of .550.
Both girls are expected to lead the Lady Horns offensively and defensively this weekend at the state tournament.