Clipping Powerful Eagles A Tough Chore

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Chalking up the Lady Longhorns' first 4A Grand Canyon Region win of the year was a tall order yesterday against the seven-time defending GCR champion Flagstaff Eagles. (Results not available at press time).

In the fray, the Lady Horns most likely faced one of the finest pitchers in the region, Jessica Baca. She is the younger sister of Rhiannon Baca, who led Flagstaff to the GCR region title last season and now toils for the Arizona State University Sun Devils.

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Left-handed batter Molly Agnes works on her slap bunting technique. Slap bunting is a big part of the Lady Longhorns' strategy. Agnes was working on her hitting at an afternoon practice in which PHS was preparing for a showdown against the Flagstaff Eagles.

The Lady Longhorns are no strangers to the younger Baca's hurling, having lost a close decision to her last season at the Buckeye invitational.

"She's a good one, just like her sister," PHS coach Will Dunman said. "But we'll be aggressive at the plate and try to get some runs across."

The Lady Horns, however, shouldn't be too focused on facing Baca -- she might not get the starting nod from coach Rudy Baca, also her father.

"I might go with another pitcher, Cristin Martin," coach Baca said.

Whether that was coach-speak and a ploy to throw the Lady Horns off the Eagles' path wasn't known until game time yesterday.

Dunman, however, said in midweek he anticipated his team would face Jessica Baca.

The Eagles coach and Dunman are no strangers to one another. Dunman did his student teaching under coach Baca who also gave him his first coaching assignment as the Eagles freshman coach.

"I enjoy playing against Will," the coach said. "He's a great competitor and I like his style of play."

The Lady Horns (10-7 overall, 0-1) entered the game vs. Flagstaff on a roll, having whipped the Buckeye Hawks 10-0.

In the March 24 game, Morgan O'Haver pitched a win that was ended after five innings on the 10-run mercy rule. O'Haver hurled four innings, was credited with the win, and gave way to Tiffany Klemstein in the top of the fifth.

Offensively, the Lady Horns turned in one of their finest performances of the season, pounding out seven hits. Krista LaHaye and Sarah Agnes were both two-for-two at the plate.

Ironically, both batted in the leadoff position -- Agnes for the first two innings and LaHaye for the latter frames.

According to Dunman, the team's hitting was much more efficient than it was a day earlier in a 4-1 loss to the homestanding Mingus Marauders.

"We just didn't hit very well or play well against them," he said.

Freshman Candice Johnson started on the hill and went the distance, giving up seven hits.

If comparative scores are an indication of team strength, the Horns were in trouble against Flagstaff. In a March 29 clash, the Eagles dominated Mingus 13-4.

Following the showdown against Flagstaff, the Horns host Shadow Mountain April 2 in a doubleheader. Game times are 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Longhorn diamond.

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