School Prank Helped Lady Longhorns Break Out Of Long Losing Streak


The pranks were a few days late for April Fools Day, but the stunts might have been the elixir the Lady Longhorns needed to cure the maladies of a five-game slump.

Only a day after pulling off the pranks, the softball team broke their losing streak, whipping Alchesay 19-1 and on Saturday taking a double header from Estrella Foothills by 6-5 and 1-0 measures.


Among the Lady Longhorn players who pulled off a series of pranks on the PHS baseball team were Hannah Armenta, Rylee Halenar, Candice Johnson, Skye McNeeley, Beth Hoyt, Aubrey Laird and Cydney Figueroa.

"It was really nice to see them come together the way we knew they could," assistant coach Kadi Tenney said.

A plastic fork prank pulled on the baseball team was the handiwork of seven team leaders who say they borrowed the idea.

"We saw it being done on television and thought it was kind of cool," senior outfielder Aubrey Laird said. "We'd been doing (pranks) all week and thought this one would be really funny, maybe the best one we did."

The practical joke took place late in the evening of April 2 and centered around the teens using about 1,200 white plastic forks, stuck teeth-first into the outfield on the Payson High School baseball field.

A day earlier, the girls had used field chalk to write a message on the dugout that was directed on the PHS baseball players.

It read, "Our balls are bigger than yours."

"I don't think anyone on the baseball team was offended, they said it was funny," Lady Longhorn Hannah Armenta said.

"We thought it was hilarious."

Friday morning, PHS principal Roy Sandoval, assistant principal Tim Fruth and athletic director Jason Lobik stoically surveyed the baseball field but would only say, "They'll have to be the ones to clean it up."

The trio did, however, give the impression that they were at least slightly amused by the girls' creativity.

During the school lunch hour on Friday, the players did as asked and picked up all the forks.

Armenta said she realizes there might be a handful of people who took the jokes the wrong way, but they were done in school spirit.

"We were kind of down from our losing streak and wanted to do something to loosen things up," she said. "I think we did that."

For Skye McNeeley, the pranks helped build camaraderie.

"We all planned and did them together. It was fun doing and planning it as a team," she said.

The coaching staff, including baseball coach Jerry Daniels and softball coach Will Dunman, were among those who chuckled at the jokes.

"They all gave us high fives," Laird said." We meant it to be in fun and I think they took it that way."

Although the girls believed their fork prank plan was fool proof, the escapade took a wrong turn late in the night when police showed up at the school.

"We could see them and we were kind of scared," Armenta said. "At first we tried to lie still on the field, hoping they wouldn't see us.

"We were whispering, telling each other not to move."

But, the eagle-eyed law enforcement officers soon spotted the players.

"I think they thought it was kind of funny too but they told us they couldn't leave us there," Laird said. "But we were only about half finished."

Heeding the warning of the Gendarmerie to leave, the players retreated from the baseball field to the friendly confines of one of the girl's home.

There, they mulled over their hasty retreat and decided an unfinished mission would be akin to another defeat.

After all, they are high school students who have studied American History and know what happened to the Confederate States of America two years after the Army of Northern Virginia retreated from Gettysburg in July of 1863.

They were determined not to make the same strategy mistakes as the ANV.

Armed with a newfound resolve, the players pledged to complete their self-proclaimed duty.

"We walked back to the baseball field and did the rest of it," McNeeley said. "We couldn't leave it (undone)."

Friday morning, most students' teachers and administrators chortled and chucked as they surveyed the field of forks protruding from the turf.

"I guess some thought that it was worse than it was, but it was harmless," Laird said. "There are a lot worse things we could have been doing and we didn't hurt anyone -- it wasn't cruel or anything like that."

The girls now agree the teenage gag was the stuff great high school memories are made of. But they say enough is enough, and they're not scheming more stunts before season's end.

"Unless we get in another losing streak," Armenta deadpanned.

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