West Champs A Tough Opening Foe For Lady Longhorn Softball Team

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Taylor Petersen is a powerhouse threat to any team the Lady Longhorns come up against with her record-setting amount of out-of-the-park home runs.

Just how good is the Estrella Foothills Wolves softball team the Lady Longhorns meet this evening, May 7, in the first round of the 3A state tournament?

The answer won’t be known until the game results are in, but the Wolves appear to be a solid squad despite the fact EF plays in the relatively weak West Region.

During the regular season, Estrella won the West title with an 8-0 record. The team was 26-6 overall and brings to the tournament a 20-game winning streak.

If we turn the calendar back to mid-April we can find the Wolves playing in the Gracie Haught Classic tournament at Rumsey Park.

EF opened slowly, losing pool games to Flagstaff, 7-5, Blue Ridge, 6-3, and Winslow, 12-4.

On the second day of the tournament, EF rebounded to whip Snowflake, 5-2, Camp Verde, 10-3, and Bradshaw Mountain, 12-0. The trio of wins earned Estrella the tournament’s consolation championship.

In rolling to the team’s remarkable win-loss record, the Wolves rode the pitching of Kaisia Smith, who carries an impressive 1.00 ERA and 25-3 record in 168 innings on the mound.

Smith is also an offensive threat as evidenced by her .469 batting average that includes 14 doubles.

As good as Smith is with the bat, she has to play second fiddle to teammate Tatum Reedy who is spanking the cowhide hard at a .566 clip with a team-high 16 doubles, seven triples and three home runs.

When Smith strolls to the plate tonight against the Lady Horns, she might be a strong candidate for an intentional walk.

Also for Estrella, Samantha Johnson has been a huge contributor with her bat posting a .409 average.

The trio of Smith, Reedy and Johnson will be a stern test for Payson hurler Mary Hagen who has shouldered most all of the team’s pitching load the past two seasons.

Scouting reports also indicate the Wolves can be a threat on the base paths and thrive on stealing when the opportunity presents itself.

Danielle Silverstein is the pilfer threat having been successful on 17 of 18 attempts. In all, EF has stolen 98 bases this season.

Which means, freshman catcher Taylor Petersen will have to be at her throwing best to keep Estrella baserunners in check.

The Lady Horns

For Payson, stats show Hagen takes to tonight’s game a 3.72 ERA that includes 130 strikeouts and 56 walks in 154 innings.

She has thrown two shutouts this season and has four one-run games.

If on base percentage is a good indication of a player’s offensive contributions, as most softball coaches argue, Kaitlyn Wessel is a big factor in the Lady Horn attack with a team-high .631 mean. Leadoff Rylee Halenar, a left-handed slap hitter, sports the second best OBP on the team at .575.

Petersen leads the Longhorns in hitting with a .409 standard. Megan Wessel has played in a limited number of games, 19, but is hitting .448.

Chrissy Heron (.302), Kaitlyn Wessel (.355), Kelsey Waugh (.306), Kyl Sanders (.326), Hagen (.323) and Halenar (.368) have also had their shining moments at the plate.

Defensively the Lady Horns have struggled, sometimes committing multiple miscues as they did in last week’s 13-10 East tournament win over Round Valley. In the sloppily played clash, Payson committed six errors; a mark they surely will want to improve on in the state showdown against EF.

Game time is 8:15 p.m. at Rose Mofford Field in Phoenix.

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