The greatest all-star thrill for former Longhorn pitching standout Rachel Ray was the opportunity to be a battery mate of Show Low catcher Courtney Nix.
"It was really good to pitch to her, something I've always wanted to do," Rachel said upon her return from Casa Grande where the Arizona Coaches Association Blue vs. Red fast-pitch all-star game was played.
For the past three seasons, Ray and Nix were East region rivals battling tooth and nail to help their team gain the upper hand on the other.
In a voting of coaches at the conclusion of the past season, the two softball standouts were selected as teammates in the ACA all-star game.
The annual postseason clash format featured a doubleheader pitting the Blue stars against the Red squad.
The first five-inning showdown ended in a 5-5 tie. With former Show Low standout drawing the starting pitching nod on the Blue team, Ray opened in centerfield. During her two at-bats, she walked once and struck out.
In the second game, Ray opened on the hill for the Blue and hurled the team to a complete game 1-0 victory.
During her pitching stint, Ray struck out five, allowed three hits and did not issue a walk.
Throughout the game, Ray relied on the two pitches that dominated the opposition most of the regular season --er rise and fastballs. The all-star experience, Ray said, "was fun but there was also a lot of practice."
If the 2003 Payson High School graduate's future unfolds as she expects, the all-star game will not be her last foray into the sport.
"I'd like to go to Paradise Valley Community College next year and play softball," she said. Her plans are to major in nursing.
After two-years at PVCC, she has her sights set on transferring to a Division I university where she could continue her softball pursuits.