The Lady Longhorn softball team competed in a 22-team tournament in Kingman over the weekend, finishing in the top six. Due to the number of teams, all games were limited to five innings or a 90-minute time limit.
The success of the Lady Horns was due to a team batting average of .348 and an on-base average of .476.
Senior shortstop Brooke McRae led the team offensively with two home runs, a double and five singles. McRae's barrage of hits sent eight runs across the plate during the seven-game stint.
Payson saw action against five teams from Las Vegas, Nev. and two Arizona teams.
Payson opened the tournament at noon Friday, March 22 with a 2-1 win 2-1 over Mojave, Nev.
Rachel Ray threw a near-perfect game for the Lady Horns with nine strikeouts. She allowed only one hit in the top of the third inning and offensively helped the team with a sacrifice RBI and a base hit single that set up Payson's game-winning run in the third inning.
The second game of the tournament sent the Lady Horns into the losers' bracket when they lost to Coconino Flagstaff, 2-3 in the bottom of the fifth.
McRae had her first of two home runs in the game when she led off in the top of the second inning and blasted a long bomb to right center field.
Payson had a 2-1 lead until the fifth inning when Coconino's offense combined for three singles and a double to win the game.
The loss made for a long day that stretched well into the night for the Lady Horns as they battled to stay in the tournament, playing three back-to-back games before getting a short break.
In game three, Payson played Cheyenne, Las Vegas and squeaked by with a 5-4 win.
Sophomore Doni Miotto scored in the second inning when she drew a walk, stole second base and then scored on a passed-ball error by Cheyenne's catcher.
Britney Boyes scored the winning run in the bottom of the third inning when she singled over second base and eventually scored on a single by Brenna Zumbro.
Payson's defense kept them in the game. Cheyenne managed to get their bat on the ball for five hits, but could not drive the needed runs in as Payson's defense combined for 14 outs.
Payson met their conference nemesis, Snowflake, the 2001 state champions, in game four with Zumbro on the mound.
Zumbro allowed only two runs off two hits while striking out seven Lobo batters for a 3-2 win.
Snowflake led Payson 2-1 at the end of the fourth inning. Zumbro threw 14 pitches to four Snowflake batters in the top of the fifth, while walking one batter, she relied on the defense to take care of the rest ... and it did.
Down by one run in the bottom of the fifth, Staci Scholl led off and reached first when Snowflake's right fielder misplayed the ball. Laura Crabtree slapped down a bunt to sacrifice and advance Scholl to second base. LeeAnne Owens slapped the ball to shortstop for a base hit advancing Scholl to third. Scholl scored to tie the game on a sacrifice by Brandi Waugh.
Ray came to the plate with Owens standing on third and sacrificed to score Owens, giving Payson the winning run.
Having played four games in less than six hours, Payson took a short break before their fifth and final game of the day scheduled for 9 p.m. against Cimmaron, Las Vegas.
At game time, spectators from both schools were huddled under blankets while their teams prepared to battle on the diamond during the last game of the night.
Payson scored 11 runs off eight hits, six walks and one error.
The error was a costly one. McRae was at the plate with Ray on third, when she drove a hard line drive at Cimmaron's left fielder who misplayed the ball and could only turn and run to chase it while McRae rounded the bases and crossed home plate.
Payson scored three runs in the first, three in the second and five in the third inning. Ray faced 18 batters, struck out four and walked two.
Cimmaron's lonely run came in the third inning off back-to-back hits. The game ended on a mercy run rule, 11-1.
Payson played its last two games of the tournament beginning at 8:30 a.m. Saturday morning when they went back-to-back against Las Vegas High and Silverado, Las Vegas.
Payson beat Las Vegas in the opening game 12-7 off 16 hits.
"If I knew they would hit like this at 8:30 in the morning all the time, I would reschedule all our games," Coach Will Dunman said.
The wind gusts began to kick up just in time for the Lady Horns' 10 a.m. game against Silverado. Silverado quickly dispatched Payson when they scored five runs in the bottom of the second inning and two in the third.
Payson only mustered one hit as they appeared to finally run out of gas seeing the tournament come to an end for them with a 7-0 loss to Silverado.
The tournament was won later that afternoon by Kingman. Sahuarita took second place, followed by Silverado in third.
The Lady Horns will see action at 3 p.m. today (Tuesday, March 26) in a nonregion game against Chinle on PHS softball diamond. Their next home game is at 4 p.m. Friday, April 5 against Blue Ridge.