Sophomore second baseman Chad McRae had the hot bat in a doubleheader against Phoenix Christian and Fountain Hills Saturday, March 16, at Fountain Hills.
McRae hit for three singles and had one RBI during the Payson Longhorns' 7-4 win over their first match against Phoenix Christian.
Payson scored its first two runs in the top of the first inning when Nate Perna doubled to right center field. He advanced to third when Ky Bradley's hit to left field forced an error. With runners on the corners, Rob Ochoa knocked Perna home with a ground ball to third base.
Ashton Shewey scored Bradley with a single to right field.
A zealous Shewey was picked off between second and third when McRae singled to right field.
With Payson on top 2-0 in the bottom of the first inning, pitcher Jeremy Heairet appeared to struggle on the mound. He walked the first batter, struck out the second and forced the third batter to popup to him on the infield. With two outs and a runner on first, Heairet walked the No. 4 and 5 batters.
With bases loaded, Heairet swiftly handled PC's No. 6 batter when he hit a ground ball back to the mound. Heairet had easy pickings at any base, however, he took the out at first.
Heairet's offense went to work in the top of the second inning, batting the lineup, scoring five runs off five singles by Matt Woolwine, Darin Grover, Waylon Pettet, Nate Perna, Ochoa and McRae.
Bradley scored one run after being hit by a pitch and crossed the plate on McRae's RBI single.
PC scraped up two runs in the bottom of the fourth inning and one in the fifth and seventh innings in the 7-4 loss to Payson.
Payson took a short break before being taken to task by Fountain Hills when the desert team sent five runs across the plate in the bottom of the first inning on three singles, a double and a home run.
Payson scraped up one run in the top of the second inning when McRae doubled with two outs, then Woolwine singled to score McRae.
The third inning belonged to both pitchers as each set down the first three batters with help from their defense.
Ochoa led off the top of the fourth with a free pass to first and advanced when Mike Hansen forced an error with a hit to second. Hansen and Ochoa scored when they were pushed around the bases by singles from McRae and Grover and a fielder's choice by Woolwine. Payson was down by two runs, 3-5, when in the fourth and fifth innings, Fountain Hills tacked on four additional runs to cinch the game, 9-3.
The Horns are on the road today (Friday) when they travel to Cottonwood to play a team from Anchorage, Alaska at noon.
The Lady Longhorns defeated the Round Valley Elks 6-3, Tuesday, March 19, protecting their unblemished 4-0 conference record while adding to their 8-1 overall record.
Sophomore Brenna Zumbro was on the mound for Payson and earned the win by striking out nine Elk batters while giving up four walks and an equal number of hits.
The Elks scored one run in the top of the first inning when their lead-off hitter walked and stole second base, and then scored on a sacrifice later in the inning.
The Lady Horns scored three of their six runs in the bottom of the first inning when lead-off hitter LeeAnne Owens walked, stole second, and then advanced to third on a passed ball by the Elks' catcher. Owens capitalized on a wild pitch and slid into home for the Lady Horns' first run of the inning.
Brooke McRae was the second run of the inning after she reached first on a dropped third-strike by the catcher that was overthrown at first base. McRae advanced to second when Brittany Boyes drew a walk. Lady Horns' catcher Trista Carlton singled to right field, driving McRae home. With Boyes now on third base, she scored on another wild pitch.
Payson picked up two more runs in the bottom of the third when Jennifer Plumb drew a walk and then advanced to second base on a sacrifice by Owens.
Brandy Waugh followed with a single to center field. Another wild pitch sent Plumb home and Waugh to third base.
Rachel Ray, who plays right field when she's not pitching, also singled and grabbed an RBI when Waugh scored.
With the score 5-1 Zumbro protected her lead in the fifth and sixth innings, striking out two batters and forcing the other four to ground out or popup to the infield.
Payson added its sixth and final run of the game in the bottom of the sixth inning when Owens singled up the middle of the diamond, then stole second base on the first pitch to teammate Waugh. Owens, once again used her speed and took third base from the Elks when the catcher bobbled the ball.
McRae, the team's power hitter, struggled at the plate until the sixth inning when she hit for a single and drove Owens home.
The top of the seventh inning was a nail-biter for Payson fans when the bottom-half of the Elks' lineup came up to bat and loaded the bases with a single and two walks.
The No. 9 hitter singled to right field and scored two runs before Zumbro went to work and hastily took care of the top of the lineup on nine pitches securing her win.
The Lady Horns will compete in a 21-team softball tournament starting today (Friday) in Kingman. The tournament offers a five-game guarantee and runs through Saturday with the championship game scheduled for 2:30 p.m.
Payson will open its play at noon Friday against Mojave, a team from Las Vegas, Nev.
Two other 3A East competitors, Snowflake and Round Valley, also will be in the tournament, but in a different bracket.
Payson, Snowflake or RV would not meet up unless two of the three teams remained undefeated. Those two could then see action against each other at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.
The next home game is at 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 26 against Chinle.