Move over Hank Aaron, make room for Taylor Petersen.
The shift could be in order because the Payson High School freshman is performing some of the same spectacular feats the former professional baseball great did during his career.
Petersen put her Aaron-like hitting talents on display during the Lady Longhorn softball team’s 9-8 win over Chino Valley.
In the pulsating March 2 victory, which took seven innings to decide, Petersen did what no Lady Longhorn has done before her — slug three over-the-fence home runs in a single game.
All three sailed over the left field fence on PHS diamond.
“She got some pitches she liked and she swung the bat pretty well,” said coach Will Dunman.
Particularly impressive about the performance is that the young girl was able to right herself after a rough start as the Lady Horns’ opening pitcher.
In the top of the first, with Petersen on the hill, Chino hitters torched her for five runs, prompting Dunman to relieve with regular starter Mary Hagen, who eventually was credited with the win after striking out seven.
A rocky start as Petersen had might deflate some first-year players, but the teen rebounded to turn herself into the Cougar pitching staff’s worst enemy.
Petersen is not traditionally a pitcher, rather she is a catcher, but Dunman said he opted to start her because the game was a non-region showdown in which both coaches shuffled their players to see where they could best contribute to the team cause.
In the win, Payson took a one-run lead in the bottom of the sixth and then had to call upon pitching and “D” to nail down the win in the top of the seventh.
“We held them, thanks to some pretty good defense and our pitching,” Dunman said.
As a team against CV, PHS was credited with nine hits, including a double and single by third baseman Kelsey Waugh.
Cami Barnett contributed a double.
A day prior to the win over CV, Payson was to host Holbrook, but inclement weather prompted a site change to Holbrook.
There, the Lady Horns took a 12-2 win on the 10-run mercy rule.
Hagen drew the starting nod from Dunman and went the distance, as she did most of last season.
At the plate, Katelyn Wessel was three-for-three, with two singles and a double.
Rylee Halenar, normally a left-handed slap hitter, surprised the Holbrook defense with a swinging away triple.
She also had a slap single.
Waugh was credited with two singles.
On March 4, the Lady Horns traveled to Buckeye for the three-day Hawks Invitational, only to struggle against mostly big-school competition.
Show Low postponed
Payson was set to return to action today in an East region opener in Show Low.
However, the snow that fell yesterday forced postponement of the game. A make-up date has not yet been decided upon.
Also, the Lady Horns are scheduled to travel March 11 to Winslow, but that game could also be called off, Dunman said.
Because Winslow is a member of the North and Payson the East, the clash is a non-region game and might not be rescheduled.