The Lady Horns might want to holster a bit more experience under the sliding pads before they possibly tackle Wickenburg in the upcoming 5th Annual Wrangler Classic.
The hesitancy in taking on the Lady Wranglers in the tournament is because Wickenburg returns its entire line-up from the 2007 team that won the 3A state championship. On the talent-laden roster is last year's state player of the year, Audrey Workman.
In the 18-team Wrangler Classic, which will be played March 7 and 8 in Wickenburg, the Lady Horn will avoid -- at least in opening day pool play --he Wranglers.
PHS is aligned in a pool with Desert Edge, Benson and Coolidge. The Lady Wranglers are in pool opposite Payson.
If PHS and the Wranglers clash, it would be on the second day when teams are seeded into a double-elimination tournament, based on the results of pool play.
In the pool action, Payson plays Desert Edge at 8 a.m. and Coolidge at 9:30 a.m. The Lady Horns wrap up the three-game set at 1:30 p.m. vs. Benson.
Last year, under former Lady Horn coach Curtis Johnson, the Lady Horns finished seventh at the Wickenburg shoot out with a 3-2-2 record, One of the ties was against then-defending state champion Eloy Santa Cruz.
Candice Johnson, now a senior hurler for the Lady Horns, was named to the all-tournament team after batting .485 and pitching in four of the seven games.
The Lady Horns tuned up for their appearance in Wickenburg with a pair of non-region road games against Holbrook and Winslow.
At Holbrook High School Feb. 25, Payson run-ruled the Roadrunners 15-2.
The following day in Winslow, Payson fell 11-5.
Against Holbrook, Johnson started on the hill and struck out seven of 13 batters she faced.
The senior fireballer then gave way to sophomore Mary Hagen, who no-hit the Runners in her two-inning varsity debut.
Offensively, seniors Hannah Armenta and Aubrey Laird led a PHS parade that pounded out 11 hits.
PHS assistant coach Kadi Tenney cited the hitters' persistence as among the reasons for the good showing.
"They were patient and it paid off in the end," she said.
Against Winslow, a team with pitchers capable of unleashing pure heat, PHS hitters struggled.
"We didn't get a hit until the fourth inning," Tenney said. "We had a difficult time making the shift from Holbrook's very slow pitching to Winslow's strong speed."
Tenney also pointed to the Lady Horns inability to hold preseason practices outdoors, because of the inclement weather, as a reason for the team's demise.
"We had some fielding errors and some base-running errors that were definitely due to the lack of outdoor practice," she said. "But Winslow played well."
In the Lady Horns eight-hit attack, Sarah Cadd was 2-for-4 and Hanna Palandri 3-for-5.