A 13-4 win over Chinle has propelled the Lady Longhorn softball team into the second round of the Grand Canyon Region tournament and a step closer to the 4A state shoot-out.
The clash against the Wildcats, Saturday on PHS diamond, represented a first round region tournament game between the No. 2 regular-season finisher, Payson, and the No. 7 team, Chinle.
The Lady Horns second-round game is at 3 p.m. Tuesday against Page on the Flagstaff Coconino field.
If the Lady Horns can slip by Page, they would earn the right to advance to the state tournament which begins May 7.
A win over Page also would guarantee the Lady Horns would open the state tournament on their home field.
Since the tournament is single elimination, a loss to the Sand Devils would mark the end of the campaign for PHS.
Based on the rivalry the Devils and Lady Horns built up during the regular season, today's regional showdown is expected to be a barn-burner,
All season, the two teams battled toe-to-toe for the runner-up slot behind region champion Flagstaff.
April 17 in Page, the two teams split a doubleheader. Payson won the first 8-7 but dropped the second 4-3.
The schools also have a bit of rivalry carried over from the basketball season.
After the Lady Horns beat Page in the championship game of the Holiday Hoops tournament, the Devils rebounded in the second round of the season-ending region tournament to whip Payson. The disappointing loss ended the Lady Horns aspirations of earning a state bid.
In Saturday's first-round softball win over Chinle, freshman Candice Johnson received the starting pitching nod from coach Will Dunman and hurled 5 1/3 innings before giving way to reliever Tiffany Klemstein.