Senior hurler Candice Johnson pitched herself to a spot on the all-tournament team and the Lady Longhorns into the consolation semifinals of the Fifth Annual Wickenburg Wrangler Classic.
During the grueling two days, Payson played its way to a 4-3 record.
In a voting of coaches held at the conclusion of the 18-team tournament played March 7 and 8, Johnson was tapped to the 12-player all-star team for her hurling, hitting and fielding efforts. The celestial squad also included tournament MVP Megan Ellsworth of Benson and Wickenburg's Audrey Workman who struck out 17 in a no-hitter against Flagstaff and 11 more in a 1-1 tie with Peoria.
Johnson's best mound effort might have been chalked up in the Lady Horns' 2-1 consolation quarterfinal win over Glendale Apollo.
"She pitched a great game," PHS assistant coach Kadi Hunt said.
Johnson allowed only four hits and one earned run on her way to earning the complete game victory.
Prior to traveling to Wickenburg for the game, coach Will Dunman picked Apollo to be one of the contenders for the tournament title.
He also tapped Benson a favorite, which turned out to be an on-target choice. Benson whipped Santa Cruz 8-0 in the championship finale.
During opening-day play, Benson was aligned in the same round-robin pool as Payson and managed a 7-1 victory over the Lady Horns.
Payson opened tournament play by run-ruling, Desert Edge, 14-1, and the Ganado Hornets, 12-0.
Payson's two-game winning streak came to a halt with the loss to Benson.
On the second day, all tournament teams competed in bracket competition.
In it, Payson opened with a 13-0 win over Santa Cruz and rebounded to edge Apollo.
Payson's quest for honors came to an end with an 11-1 loss to Peoria.
"By that time we were fatigued and worn out," Hunt said.
"We were playing a lot of freshmen."
Individually, Payson was paced by the defensive efforts of infielders Riley Halenar and Hannah Armenta.
Aubrey Laird and Skye McNeeley paced the offense.
"They got a hit in most every game," Hunt said. "Candice also helped herself out with some good hitting."
Also in the tournament, defending 3A state champion Wickenburg beat Bourgade 5-1 for third place.
Winslow whipped Peoria, 8-3, in the consolation finale.
The Lady Horns return to action at 3 p.m. tomorrow, Wednesday, against the visiting Camp Verde Cowboys.
The varsity clash will be preceded at 1 p.m. by a junior varsity game.
The Lady Horns open the East region season by hosting Show Low March 14. Game time is 3:30 p.m.