A four-game winning streak was cause for celebration in the Lady Longhorn dugout, but it was the team's 4-3 thriller over arch rival Show Low that had first-year coach Curtis Johnson gasping for words.
"Victory" is all he could utter following the nail biting win April 4 on the Cougars' home field.
The series of events that rendered the coach speechless tipped off in the bottom of the fifth inning with Payson clinging to a precarious 3-0 lead.
A Cougar solo home run in the frame pulled Show Low to within 3-1 and set the stage for even more drama.
In the top of the sixth, Kaycee Pugel swatted her second home run of the season to push the Lady Horns out to a seemingly safe 4-1 lead.
But, in the bottom of the seventh and final frame, Show Low rallied for two runs before starting hurler Candice Johnson extinguished the rally fires and nailed down the hard-earned victory.
"The team was very excited with the win because our (East region) record is now 3-1 and the win places us back into the (championship) race," Johnson said.
In the all important loss column of the region standings, Snowflake, Show Low and Payson all have one loss. Blue Ridge, which dealt the Lady Horns its only region loss of the season, still must play both Show Low and Snowflake.
In other words, with seven East games remaining in the regular season, the region crown is up for grabs.
In the win over Show Low, Candice Johnson was credited with the victory after hurling a three-hitter in which she gave up just one earned run and struck out seven.
Molly Agnes led the offense, going 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
In other regular season games, some of which had to be rescheduled due to wet fields and rain, Payson whipped Holbrook 6-0, Camp Verde, 11-4 and Alchesay 21-1.
In the March 27 East region win over Holbrook, Candice Johnson hurled a three-hit shut out, striking out four and not issuing a single walk
Hannah Armenta had two hits in three trips to the plate including her second home run of the season.
Against Camp Verde March 31, Hannah Armenta continued her red-hot hitting, finishing 3-for-3, with a triple, home run and five RBIs.
Ashley Anesin was 2-for-2 with two RBIs and Molly Agnes 2-for-3 and three runs scored.
In the April 1 blow out at Alchesay Whiteriver, Hannah Armenta almost singlehandedly shot down the Falcons with her fourth home run of the year, a double, four RBIs and a sterling 4-for-5 effort at bat.
During the three game stint, the sizzling sophomore punched three round trip tickets and batted .818.
"She was on fire," Curtis Johnson said.
Also against Alchesay, Tamara Crabdree and Pugel were both 4-for-4. In Pugel's showing was the first home run of her varsity career.
Tiffany Klemstine pitched a complete game three-hit victory, striking out three and walking one.