Baseball, Softball Teams Taking Shape


Payson High School baseball coach Jerry Daniels and softball counterpart, Curtis Johnson, now have a better idea of how their teams will fare this season.

The pair's all-important inklings were picked up during spirited two-hour scrimmages Feb. 20 against the visiting Winslow Bulldogs.

In the Arizona Interscholastic Association approved scrimmages, no score could be kept and individual and team accomplishments cannot be counted in regular season statistics.

By AIA rule, coaches may use the clashes only to fine tune their teams and evaluate players.

In the scrimmages, the PHS teams fared well against Bulldog squads projected to be North region title contenders.

On the baseball field, the Longhorns lit up Winslow coach Art Griffith's starting pitcher early by scoring four runs.

The Dogs, however, were without four of their varsity regulars. The missing players are also members of the basketball team that played its way to the final four of the state tournament.

"We missed those players," Griffith said.

The Longhorns' proficient hitting attack stunned Daniels who in preseason predicted the offense would be suspect.


Candice Johnson opened on the hill for the Lady Longhorn softball team in its Feb. 20 scrimmage against Winslow. Johnson is expected to be Payson's ace hurler this season.

"I was really surprised how well we hit the ball," he said.

On the mound, junior Jason Sweet received the starting nod from Daniels and showed the ill effects from the elbow problems that bothered him last year.

On the softball field, Johnson -- a first year varsity head coach -- watched his daughter, Candice, start on the hill.

The teen threw well but a leaky defense committed several costly errors.

"Defensively, we have some work to do," coach Johnson said. "We will be working hard on it over the next couple of weeks."

Among the problems the defense must overcome is a lack of experience.

"We have only six returning varsity players from last year and we have not settled on (player) positions," Johnson said.

In addition to the hurling duties of Candice Johnson, junior Tiffany Klemstein and freshman Christina Deaton served mound duty.


Lady Longhorn Tamara Crabdree slides safely into third base during Payson's season opening scrimmage against the Winslow Lady Bulldogs.

"I was pleased with all their pitching," coach Johnson said.

Offensively, the Lady Horns showed well against Winslow, pounding out an unofficial six hits. The highlight of the onslaught was a first inning, over-the-fence home run by Hilary Armenta.

Armenta and her sister, Hannah, combined last season to punch 10 round trip tickets.

The baseball team tips off the season in earnest today, Tuesday, in Sedona. Game time for both junior varsity and varsity clashes are 4 p.m.

The softball team travels March 3 and 4 to Wickenburg for the Wrangler Invitational.

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