The 3A East region tournament tips off today, and with it goes the spoils of a berth in the 16-team state finals.
The top three teams from each of the four region showdowns around Arizona earn berths into the 3A state shootout.
The other four teams are selected by power points.
The Arizona Interscholastic Association power point rankings reveal the Lady Horns are 14th in the state, which could bode well for advancing to the “Big Show.”
The baseball team, however, is teetering on the edge of advancing to state, sitting in a tie for 17th place with Sedona Red Rock.
For the regional softball tournament, which will be played at the site of the highest seed, the Lady Longhorns open play today as the East’s No. 4 seed, pitted against No. 5 Blue Ridge. Game time is 4 p.m. on PHS diamond.
If PHS emerges victorious, the Lady Horns would advanced to a second-round game on April 29 at East regular season champion Show Low.
If Payson falls to Show Low the team would play the loser of the other semifinal game (Round Valley, Alchesay or Snowflake) at 4 p.m., May 1. The winner would advance to state as the East’s third seed.
The championship game will also be decided May. 1.
The No. 3 seeded PHS baseball team opens the tournament at 4 p.m. today in Payson against No. 6 Alchesay.
A win would propel the Horns into a second-round, semifinal clash April 29 at No. 2 Snowflake.
The semifinal losers meet May 1 for a state third seed. Semifinal winners clash that same day for the East tournament championship and the state’s top seed.
The baseball state tournament is set for May 7 to May 15 in Surprise. The state softball tournament is those same dates at Rose Mofford Stadium in Phoenix.
Season ends with wins
Both the baseball and softball teams wrapped up the regular season April 23 against Fountain Hills.
The baseball team, playing in Payson, overwhelmed the highly regarded Falcons 12-4.
FH entered the game ranked seventh in power points and sporting a 20-8 record.
But those lofty credentials didn’t add up to much after the Longhorns opened a 4-0 lead in the first inning and then cruised to the victory.
For Payson, Westin Gibson was a player on fire, cracking two home runs and a double in five appearances. He also tacked on five RBIs to his season total, and scored two runs.
Ever Figueroa was also 3-for-five and Sean Dougherty 3-for-4 with two doubles and an RBI.
Dakota Marshall went the distance on the mound, giving up five hits and two earned runs. He also struck out six and walked just one.
The highlight of the Lady Longhorns’ 10-5 victory over Fountain Hills was freshman Taylor Petersen setting a school home run record of 10.
Although she is a varsity rookie, Petersen has shown good power all season long, breaking the former PHS mark of nine set in 2006 by Hannah Armenta.
Also in the victory over FH, freshman Megan Wessel earned the pitching win, going the distance.
“She had two four-pitching innings,” said assistant coach Kadi Tenney.
With Petersen swinging a hot bat and Wessel joining regular starter Mary Hagen on the hill, the Lady Horns could be clicking on all cylinders in the upcoming regional tournament.