A hard-earned 8-4 victory Tuesday over the visiting Sinagua Mustangs kept the Lady Longhorn express on track and steaming toward a runner-up finish in the Grand Canyon region.
With one game remaining in the regular season, yesterday against Coconino (results not available at press time), the Lady Horns are 8-4 and tied with Page for second place.
The Sand Devils also have a single game remaining -- yesterday against Sinagua.
"We need a little help from Sinagua to finish all alone in second," PHS coach Will Dunman said. "If they can beat Page and we beat Coconino, we will be second (in the GCR final standings)."
Whether the Lady Horns finish as the Grand Canyon runner-up or fall to third, they will host a first-round game of the region postseason tournament at noon Saturday. Possible opponents include GCR cellar-dweller Sinagua (1-10) or Chinle (2-8).
In corralling the Mustangs April 26, the Horns received a huge boost from the red-hot bat of Hannah Armenta.
In the bottom of the fifth, with the Lady Horns trailing 4-2 and Jessica Coleman on second and Hilary Armenta on first, Hannah Armenta uncorked a home run over the right center field fence. The round-trip ticket was the sixth that the varsity rookie has punched this season.
Dunman credits the young player's powerful hitting to quick hands, saying "she swings so quick, she really pops the ball."
After assuming a 5-4 lead on Armenta's circuit blast, the Lady Horns never relinquished the cushion. Most of the credit for maintaining the lead belongs to senior reliever Morgan O'Haver who came on in the top of the fourth and shut the Mustangs out the remainder of the way.
During her stint on the mound, O'Haver gave up just one hit and was credited with the victory.
Freshman Candice Johnson got the starting call from Dunman and hurled the first three innings, giving up three runs.
Offensively, Payson pounded out 12 hits, but left nine runners stranded on the base path.
Defensively, the team turned in a solid performance, committing just two errors.
While the victory was not as spectacular as a 5-4 nail-biter April 19 over Mingus, the players showed plenty of mettle in battling back from a two-run deficit.
"They got the job done and that is what's important," Dunman said.