A trio of crucial East showdowns next week will go a long way toward deciding the postseason fate of the Lady Longhorn softball team.
"They are keys, huge keys," first year coach Curtis Johnson said.
The showdowns include an April 18 meeting in Payson against Alchesay, an April 20 visit to Snowflake and an April 21 visit to Snowflake.
The Snowflake game represents the rescheduling of a clash originally slated for March 10 that was rained out.
The three upcoming games were rendered crucial to playoff hopes after the Lady Horns dropped a 9-5 East skirmish to the visiting Snowflake Lobos.
"Before (the loss), games were important, now they are more so," Johnson said.
With the loss, the Lady Horns region record fell to 4-3. If Payson can sweep next week's games, or at least finish 2-1, the feat would represent a huge step toward an upper division region finish and a berth in the state tournament.
In Tuesday's loss to Snowflake, sophomore Candice Johnson went the distance on the mound and absorbed the loss. Of the runs scored, however, only three were earned.
The final score is a bit deceptive in that the difference in tallies much of the game was never more than one or two runs.
"2-2, 4-2, 4-3 and 6-5 until the last inning when they scored three and we didn't answer," coach Johnson said.
In the clash, sophomore Hannah Armenta continued her hitter tear, finishing 3-for-4 at the plate including a double and a home run. The home run was the fifth she has hit this season.