Sporting a 13-4-1 record and unblemished East credentials (2-0), the Lady Longhorns return to region action at 4 p.m. today (Tuesday) on the PHS softball field.
Payson's foe, region rival Alchesay, is known more for its excellence on the basketball court than the softball diamond. The Falcons do, however, have the talent to play the role of spoiler in the East championship chase.
Brenna Zumbro, a fire balling junior armed with a 9-2-1 record and a 1.12 ERA, is expected to start on the hill for the Lady Horns. Relying mostly on a variety of baffling pitches to stymie opposing hitters, Zumbro has appeared in five consecutive games for the Rim softball crew. Among her offerings are drop, rise, change-up, curve and fastball pitches. Zumbro said her curve and change-up are probably her most effective pitches.
In last week's action, she hurled the Lady Horns to a 4-2 win over Round Valley and a 6-0 thumping of the Miami Vandals.
In the come-from-behind win over the visiting Elks April 1 on PHS diamond, Zumbro struck out seven and walked one.
After Round Valley scored single unearned runs in the top of the second and third innings to take a 2-0 lead, the Lady Horns came roaring back in the bottom of the fourth.
A single by Jessica Coleman and an Elk throwing error on an infield grounder by Sherra Johnson sent Coleman scampering home with Payson's first run.
After Zumbro was hit by a pitch, she was replaced at first by courtesy runner Krystal McRae. A base hit by Rikki Ray sent McRae into scoring position at second. Tanya Davis singled up the middle to score McRae and advance Ray to third. On a wild pitch, Ray scored the go-ahead run. Leading 3-2, the Horns tacked on an insurance run when Davis scored on Doni Miotto's single.
In the top of the sixth, Zumbro was at her pitching best. Facing the minimum six hitters, she struck out three and forced the others into routine grounders and pop ups.
Most fans might have noticed the April 4 game against visiting Miami was not on their PHS schedule.
A late edition to the agenda, the game afforded the players and coaches to see how the team would fare against one of the better squads from the 3A South region. The two teams battled through a scoreless 4 1/2 innings before the Lady Horns exploded for five runs in the bottom of the fifth.
The Payson outburst was fueled by four singles, a triple and one walk sandwiched around a Vandal error.
In the sixth, the Lady Horns tacked on an insurance run.
For the Lady Horns, Miotto was two-for-two with two triples and three RBIs. She also walked twice. Coleman and McRae contributed two singles each.
In going the distance, Zumbro gave up three hits, struck out eight and walked one.