Losing always hurts, but some defeats sting more than others.
Such was the case March 31 on the Payson High softball field where the Lady Longhorns suffered the agony of defeat falling 6-5 to Round Valley.
What rendered the loss doubly gut-wrenching is that the Lady Horns had an opportunity to tie or win the game in the bottom of the seventh inning.
With the bases loaded and two outs, a base hit, a Round Valley error or walk would have tied the game and sent it into extra innings.
It was not to be however, as the PHS hitter went down on strikes to end the game and Lady Horn hopes for a rally.
The loss also dropped PHS to 0-1 in the East Region standings. The team, however, is ranked 12th in the state in all-important power points with 32.9.
Those points will be used to seed the top 16 teams into the season-ending state tournament.
As tough as the loss to the Elks was, it didn’t dampen coach Will Dunman’s enthusiasm for his players.
“We came up a little short but we did a lot of good things,” he said. “We are making some mental mistakes and must find consistency, but I’m proud of the kids.”
In the loss, the Lady Horns showed healthy doses of true grit after falling behind 5-0 in the third inning.
Refusing to fold up the tent, PHS rallied back with single runs in the third, fourth and seventh innings and two runs in the sixth to tie up the game 5-5.
The big hit in the rally was a two-run double in the bottom of the sixth by Kyle Sanders.
For the game, the Lady Horns actually out-hit the Elks 11-6.
“Our hitting also forced them into five errors,” Dunman said. “All of our kids who started got a base hit, we are making good contact.”
Mary Hagen opened on the hill and went the distance allowing three earned runs while striking out six.
As the pitcher of record, she was saddled with the loss.
Payson returns to 3A East action April 4 in Show Low. Game times are 11 a.m. (junior varsity) and 1 p.m. (varsity).