The Lady Longhorns will open the 2006 softball season armed with a nucleus of five players who have participated in highly competitive off-season club ball.
The players include sisters Hannah and Hilary Armenta, Candice Johnson, Tamara Crabdree and Sara Cadd.
Hannah Armenta and Candice Johnson compete on Storm 16-years-and-under team, Hilary plays for Storm 18-years squad, Crabdree holds down a spot on the Little Saints 18-years crew and Cadd is on the Xtreme 16-years-and-under roster.
The group has been playing on the Valley-area teams since the high school season wrapped up in May of 2005.
According to newly appointed Lady Longhorn coach Curtice Johnson, also Candice's father, the teens have participated in tournaments in California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado and New Mexico.
"Their level of dedication to the game of softball should prove invaluable for the upcoming high school season," the coach said.
"The 3A East division has always been very competitive in softball, and with these players' leadership, Payson should be in the thick of the race."
Johnson also said the real value of participating in club ball is that the local athletes are able to play against, and alongside, some of the finest, most accomplished athletes from the big school ranks.
Payson's five club players represent the most PHS has ever sent to the off-season Valley programs, Johnson said.
The new coach replaces Will Dunman who resigned last year to take over as principal at Payson Elementary School.
Preseason practices and tryout for the jayvee and varsity teams begin Feb. 6.