'Once We Get To State, It's Anybody's Game,' Coach Says

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A lost coin flip might be the good omen the Lady Longhorn softball team is looking for as it begins play today in the Class 3A Arizona State tournament.

Payson opens the postseason at 5:15 p.m. against North No. 2 seed Tuba City at Rose Mofford Sports Complex in Phoenix.

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Lady Longhorn pitcher Tiffany Klemstine and her battery mate Sarah Cadd discuss strategy during a break in softball action. The two and their teammates will return to the diamond today at Phoenix Rose Mofford Softball Complex for the opening round of the state tournament. Game time is 5:15 p.m. vs. Tuba City.

Although the Lady Horns wrapped up the season tied for second with Snowflake in the regular season standings, Payson fell to the third seed and the Lobos assumed the second after PHS lost an April 26 coin flip.

The good omen in the lost flip is that if the Lady Horns can somehow slip past Tuba City in the state opener they won't have to face state championship favorite Chandler Seton Catholic in the second round.

CSC is in a different bracket than PHS and, in the second round, will play the winner of the Snowflake vs. Window Rock opener. Second round games will be played Saturday. Final four clashes are slated for May 11 and the championship game on tap for 5:30 p.m. May 12. All state tournament games are at Rose Mofford fields located at 9833 N. 25th Avenue.

At state, the Lady Horns will be looking to improve on last year's performance when the team reached the state semifinals, before losing a 2-1 heartbreaker to the Florence Gophers.

In the loss, Johnson pitched well enough to win, scattering four hits and striking out six. The Lady Horns, however, gave up two unearned runs on a pair of throwing miscues.

If Payson dispatches of the Tuba City Warriors, the team would advance to a second round clash at 11:30 a.m. Saturday against the winner of the Wickenburg vs. Sahuarita first round skirmish.

Coach Will Dunman, who took over the reins of the program March 21 after Curtis Johnson unexpectedly resigned, is confident the Lady Horns can do well in the postseason.

"Once we get to state, it's anybody's game," he said.

Throughout the state tournament, Dunman will have two battled tested pitchers -- Tiffany Klemstine and Candice Johnson -- he can call upon. Klemstine, a senior, throws with plenty of velocity and Johnson offers up a variety of pitches.

Offensively, catcher Sarah Cadd and infielder Hannah Armenta supply the power that fuels the Lady Longhorn express.

Tamara Crabdree, Hannah Palandri and Aubrey Laird are also capable hitters.

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