The 3A state tournament bracket has not yet been etched in stone, but the Lady Longhorns will probably play East Region rival Blue Ridge in the opening round.
As of press time, the Lady Horns were clinging to the 16th and final seed in the power point rankings.
If Payson continues to hold that seed when the brackets are finalized in midweek, the Lady Horns would take on the No. 1 ranked Yellow Jackets at 3 p.m., Friday, May 8 on Field No. 1 at Rose Mofford Stadium in Phoenix.
“So far that’s what it looks like, us vs. BR,” coach Will Dunman said. “But some scores have not been posted which might affect our position.”
If the Lady Horns’ spot in the power point ranking changes after other regular season scores are posted this week, the team could find itself sitting at No. 15 and playing second-ranked Safford in the first round.
That game is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Field No. 2 at Rose Mofford.
If the Lady Horns are pitted against Blue Ridge, the two teams will be no strangers to one another.
The two rivals met twice in the regular season with the Yellow Jackets winning 10-0 and 12-0 decisions. Also Blue Ridge competed in the two-day Gracie Haught Classic held at Rumsey Park.
Payson has earned a berth into the state tournament on its power points ranking, rather than as a top-three region finisher.
Class 3A teams can advance to state by either method.
The Lady Horns were fifth in the final six-team standings, trailing champion BR, second place Snowflake, bronze medalist Round Valley and fourth place Show Low.
Payson wrapped up the regular season May 1 with an 11-10 loss in eight innings to Snowflake.
“The game was just awesome,” Dunman said. “We played up to our potential and the girls never gave up.”
He lauded the team members for, “playing a complete game even though it was a loss.”
That evening, the Friends And Neighbors (FAN) Club hosted a benefit barbecue dinner to raise funds for the softball program.
“I want to thank the FAN Club for all the support in the barbecue and also Albert Hunt for his efforts,” Dunman said. “The atmosphere was great.”