With their eye on a state softball title, the Lady Longhorns put their faith in the right arm of Tiffany Klemstine.
Entering the Sweet 16 round of the 3A softball tournament, Klemstine, a senior three-year letter winner, was Payson's go-to pitcher.
And for six innings Friday, she was gold. Striking out seven and allowing just four hits, Klemstine got the win over Tuba City.
Saturday, the championship dream ended. For seven innings, Klemstine held Wickenburg to five runs. But Payson's bats never got going and the Lady Horns lost, 5-1. The loss also ended their state championship dreams.
Payson entered the state finals as the East's No. 3 seed after tying Snowflake for the runner-up spot in regular season play, but losing a seeding coin flip with the Lobos.
The Lobos opened with a 10-0 win over Window Rock, but lost to Chandler Seton Catholic, 10-0, in the second round.
The only East team remaining in the tournament is region champion Show Low, which had to go 11 innings before defeating Florence, 3-2, in the second round.
The Cougars will play West runner-up Estrella Foothills in the final four. Also in the semifinals, West champion Wickenburg takes on Seton Catholic. Both games are scheduled for May 11 at Rose Mofford. The state championship will be decided the following day, also at the Mofford softball complex.