The Lady Longhorns gave defending 3A Arizona State and North region champion Winslow all the fight the Dogs could handle before falling 6-4.
In the non-region clash played March 10 on PHS diamond, the Lady Horns jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first on singles by Chrissy Herron and Taylor Petersen, coupled with a Bulldog error and wild pitch.
Petersen, the school’s home run leader, finished the game 4-for-4 with three singles and a double that narrowly missed being a home run.
In the top of the second, the Dogs pulled to within 2-1 and an inning later took the lead, scoring three more runs off Payson freshman starter Devann Runzo.
In the bottom of the frame, Payson pulled to within 4-3 on Petersen’s double, a wild pitch and single by Megan Wessel. In the inning, the Lady Horns sent seven players to the plate, the most in the entire game.
With two outs in the inning, Natalie Black singled to left center to put the tying run aboard, but was left stranded.
Winslow put the game away in the top of the fourth, scoring two runs on three hits.
Payson scored its final run in the fourth after leadoff hitter Rylee Halenar got aboard on a single, advanced on a wild pitch and crossed the plate on Petersen’s single. Neither team scored in the final three innings.
The Lady Horns return to action tomorrow, March 16 against St. Johns. Game time is 3:30 p.m. on PHS field.
The all-important East region season begins in earnest March 22 vs. Round Valley in Payson.
In the following month, the Lady Horns’ post-season fate will be decided by the results of nine East region games.