Lady Longhorns Battling For State Tourney Spot

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Andy Towle/Roundup - atowle@payson.com

Cami Barnett stands at the plate waiting for the next pitch as Kelsey Waugh warms up in the batter’s circle.

If the 3A Arizona State softball tournament were to begin today, the Lady Longhorns would slip into the postseason as a 16th and final seed.

That’s according to the most recent Arizona Interscholastic power rankings that show the Lady Horns have 69.0556 points, about three more than 17th place Holbrook.

While receiving a berth into the state tournament is every prep team’s goal, a 16th seed would mean the Lady Horns would be pitted against top-ranked Santa Cruz in the first round on May 8 at Rose Mofford field in Phoenix.

Playing the Dust Devils would be a challenge since the team is 22-6 overall and widely considered a state championship contender.

So, the best scenario for the Lady Horns is to win their final three games of the regular season and move up in power point rankings.

If the Lady Horns can win out, they could pass River Valley (71.1875) and Tuba City (72.5).

Payson didn’t do itself any ranking favors April 17 in a 13-7 loss to Show Low, but two days later, did help their cause by whipping Chino Valley, 13-2.

In the loss to Show Low, the Lady Cougars scored two runs in the first, third, fourth and seventh innings to keep the Lady Horns at bay.

Payson started strong with three runs in the first but was held scoreless the next two innings before rallying for three tallies in the fifth.

As Mary Hagen has done all season long, she shouldered the pitching load for the Lady Horns. She also contributed a pair of singles to the offensive cause.

Cami Barnett ripped a seventh-inning triple and Skye McNeeley had a two-run double and two stolen bases in the fifth inning rally.

Against Chino Valley, PHS opened on fire, scoring nine runs after sending 11 batters to the plate.

That opening onslaught ended any hopes the Cougars had of victory as the pitching combo of Hagen and Tiffany Gamboa kept CV at bay. Offensively, Chrissy Heron and McNeeley had three singles.

Barnett provided the power in the Lady Horn “O” with a home run and two triples.

The team returns to action today, April 24, in Lakeside against the Blue Ridge Yellow Jackets. Game time is 4 p.m.

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