Every so often in a prep athlete’s career, a game rolls around in which every effort turns spectacular, all performances border on dazzling and a teen proudly marches off the field feeling as if the sports world has been conquered.
Such was the case April 10 for Dakota Marshall, and one day later, for Ridge Halenar.
During that short span of time, the two Longhorn baseball players turned in a pair of the best offensive performance in PHS baseball history.
Marshall’s big-time stab at fame highlighted the homestanding Longhorns’ 11-1 victory over the Estrella Foothills Wolves.
During the win, Marshall finished a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate with two home runs, a double, three runs scored and a pythonic six RBIs.
His home runs, coach Jerry Daniels said, “were really stoked, one went out in the street (Longhorn Road).”
Simply put, Marshall racked up more stats in a single fray than some lesser players accumulate in a season.
Halenar, coming off a three-home run performance April 9 against Alchesay, enjoyed a banner day in an 11-6 loss in Winslow to the Bulldogs, a team that is a perennial state tournament qualifier.
The senior catcher, also a standout on the Horn state championship football team, was 4-for-4 in the batter’s box, including two doubles, two RBIs, a run scored and a stellar defensive stand.
The only accomplishment that could have added more luster to the performance was a victory over the North Region Dogs.
Halenar’s feats last week catapulted him into the top spot among East Region batting leaders with a .646 mark. Most of the early season, Snowflake’s Robby Martindell held the lead, but now with a .600 average, the Lobo star has fallen to second.
Halenar also leads the region in on-base percentage at .693.
In addition to the 11-1 win over Estrella, the Horns doubled up on the Wolves winning 21-7 in the second game of a twin bill.
During the “W,” Payson pounded out 15 hits against hapless EF pitching.
Westin Gibson was 3-for-3 and Jake Sleeper, Ever Figueroa, Edwin Estrada and Sean Dougherty had two hits each.
Marshall and Halenar shared pitching duties with Marshall picking up the win after hurling four innings, allowing eight hits and two earned runs.
The two wins over Estrella, the pounding of Alchesay and the loss to Winslow put the Horns record at 15-6 overall.
Currently, Blue Ridge, Show Low and Payson are tied for the East Region lead with identical 3-1 marks. Snowflake is 2-2, Round Valley 1-3 and Alchesay 0-4.
The tie for the East lead could be broken this week with the Horns playing today, April 14 at Snowflake and April 17 in Show Low.
PHS also has a non-region encounter April 18 against unbeaten Chino Valley.
For the Snowflake game, Daniels has indicated he will either pitch junior righthander Dougherty or Marshall.
Against Show Low, mound ace Hunter Haynes will take the hill.
All three pitchers are among the ERA region leaders. Haynes leads the East at 2.14, Dougherty is third (2.59) and Marshall fourth (2.86).
Haynes is also the region strikeout leader (56) and tops in wins with five.
Also for PHS, Gibson is ranked second in home runs (eight), and in RBIs (36) and fourth in slugging percentage (1.000). Keaton Duran has four pitching wins and is ranked second behind Haynes.