LeeAnn Owens secured her spot as lead-off hitter for the Lady Longhorn softball team Thursday, March 7 when she batted a thousand with three singles in Payson's 5-2 win over St. Johns.
The senior first baseman bats left-handed and has been working on her "slap" hit during daily practices.
The slap is a swing in which the batter walks into the pitch and drives the ball down sharply or pops it over the infielder's head as they move forward anticipating a bunt. The slap is difficult to master, however, it is very effective when the batter hits from the left side of the plate and has the speed to beat a throw to first base.
"LeeAnn is the ideal slapper. She has the speed and the determination to complete the goal of getting on base," coach Will Dunman said. "Once on base, she puts pressure on the defense, which makes the game very exciting."
In the bottom of the first inning, Owens singled after slapping to the St. Johns' shortstop, who fielded the ball cleanly and made the throw to first, but could not get the out due to Owens' speed.
The Lady Longhorns' offense was virtually shut down by St. Johns' pitcher, Dez Salozar, in the second and third innings, with the exception of another base hit by Owens.
In the fourth inning, Brittany Boyes led off the inning with a single to center field, but was forced out at second when Staci Scholl hit a ground ball to the shortstop.
Jennifer Plumb followed Scholl at the plate and also hit into a fielder's choice which sent Scholl to the dugout. With two outs and Plumb standing on first base, catcher Trista Carlton singled up the middle. Plumb was on her way to second base when the ball was hit and scored following a wild throw.
Owens led off the fifth inning with her third base hit of the game and scored when Waugh tripled after hitting a hard, line-drive up the middle that went to the fence. Waugh, who also has base-running speed, blew past third and slid into home safely after a throwing error to the plate.
Payson's next three batters went down in order after grounding out to the infield.
St. Johns scored their only run in the top of the seventh inning when their No. 4 batter hit a long bomb to center field for a triple and scored on an error at first base.
Rachel Ray, who pitched the entire game for Payson, forced the next three batters to pop up and ground out to infielders to end the game. Ray struck out 11 of the batters she faced during the game and allowed only two hits and no walks. Offensively, Payson racked up seven hits, five singles and two triples.
"I am very excited with what we can do offensively and defensively," Dunman said.
Payson will travel to Globe today (Tuesday), hosts Bourgade at 4 p.m. Wednesday, and travels to Snowflake Friday, March 15, for their first conference game at 3:30 p.m.