After believing all week that the Lady Longhorn softball team would make it into the 3A state tournament, probably as a No. 15 seed, players coaches and fans learned late Wednesday afternoon the team is not in the postseason.
On Wednesday morning, the power point rankings showed Payson was No. 15 and, as such, probably bound for the state tournament.
But when the Arizona Interscholastic Association released the official state bracket online later that afternoon, the Lady Horns were not one of the 16 teams seeded into the state tournament.
The 16th seed went to Holbrook and the 15th to River Valley.
In the first round today, May 8, at Rose Mofford field in Phoenix, the Roadrunners play No. 1 Blue Ridge and River Valley takes on No. 2 Safford.
Either one of those final two slots could have gone to the Lady Longhorns, but did not when seedings were tabulated.
At the conclusion of the regular season it was obvious Payson would not advance to state as a top-three region finisher because the team finished fifth in the six-team East Region.
But it appeared to onlookers that the PHS girls would earn a state berth via the power points ranking because they had hovered between 14th and 16th place most of the season.
The Lady Horns were able to cling to qualifying hopes mostly due to the strength of the team’s schedule.
In the Arizona Interscholastic Association Power Points system, teams are awarded some of their points on wins by their opponents.
The Lady Horns’ opponents had 204 victories, most in the state.
Top-seeded Blue Ridge’s opponents had only 181 victories but the Yellow Jackets countered that with an impressive 17-1 record.
However, when the final seedings were made public by the AIA, Payson’s strength of schedule and 7-12 record wasn’t enough to get the team into the playoffs.
No. 1 Blue Ridge, No. 8 Show Low, No. 9 Snowflake and No. 10 Round Valley will represent the East.
Oddly enough, Show Low and Snowflake — two neighboring schools just a few miles apart — will travel to Phoenix to play yet another rivalry game against one another.
Also, Round Valley plays Window Rock in the first round.
If Payson had made the state tournament, team hopes would have been partly shouldered by pitcher Mary Hagen who has handled the hurling chores all season long.