Lady Longhorn softball coach Will Dunman is among those who believe earning all-region honors is one of the most prestigious laurels a high school player can reap.
"Being chosen is huge because the players are picked by the coaches who have seen them play all season long," Dunman said. "To be chosen, (the players) have to impress the coaches with their work ethic, the way they play the game and their talent. It's tough to get selected, especially in (the) 4A (conference)."
The difficulty of earning the postseason honors makes the recent selection of four Lady Longhorns to the All-Grand Canyon team a well-earned plaudit for the players and the statewide recognition that the PHS softball program is among the best in the region.
In a voting of GCR coaches held at the conclusion of the season, Hilary Armenta and Jessica Coleman were named first team honorees. Hannah Armenta and Morgan O'Haver were named second team. Honorable mention laurels went to Katie Plumb.
Although players weren't chosen to the all GCR team by position, Hilary Armenta built a reputation during the season as probably the finest catcher in the region. Her expert handling of hurlers and ability to corral pitches out of the strike zone made her an invaluable cog in the Lady Horn defense.
Offensively, she was one of the team's best hitters and was second to her younger sister in home runs with three.
Coleman, a senior bound for Paradise Valley Community College on a partial soccer and two academic scholarships, held down second base responsibilities for the Lady Horns.
"She was a well-rounded player with a good glove and arm," Dunman said.
Coleman, always a threat offensively to get on base, batted in the all-important No. 3 position in the PHS order.
Although Hannah Armenta was only a freshman, she was one of the most proficient hitters in the region. Her team leading seven home runs -- many of them over the fence --ere a school record.
Dunman attributed her power hitting to her quick hands that helped her get around on the quickest of fast ball offerings.
O'Haver, the team's ace pitcher this season, was a four-year letter winner who led Payson to a GCR second-place finish and a berth in the state tournament. She wrapped up the season with a 15-6 record which helped her earn a softball scholarship to Paradise Valley Community College.
Plumb was one of the most versatile infielders on the Lady Horn team. After playing second base most of her early career, she was asked this year to switch to first. She made the change without so much as a grumble.
"She had to learn a new position, she handled it and she did it well," Dunman said. "She also improved her batting which really helped the team."
Helping opposing coaches select the all GCR softball team could be the final one Dunman is involved in for at least a few years.
As the newly appointed principal of Payson Elementary School, Dunman may be giving up his coaching duties to devote full-time attention to his new role at PES, he said.
His resignation, however, is not yet official.