The Gracie Lee Haught Classic championship game, played March 19 on Lady Longhorn diamond, turned into a rematch of last season’s 3A state championship softball clash that pitted No. 1 seeded Winslow against No. 2 Estrella Foothills.
The difference in the two title games, however, was the outcomes were much different.
Winslow won the 2010 state championship nipping Estrella 4-3 in a thriller.
In the Classic, Estrella enjoyed a bit of sweet revenge winning a 6-5 nail-biter.
The 16-team Gracie Haught Classic tournament kicked off March 18 with the teams playing in four pools of four teams each.
Tournament director Charlene Brown used the results of pool play to seed the teams on Saturday into one of two brackets.
The teams with winning pool records competed in a championship bracket and those with losing records played in a consolation bracket.
The Lady Longhorns entered the tournament fresh off a 10-4 regular season win over the St. Johns Redskins.
Payson continued its winning ways in the Classic opener whipping Mogollon Heber 6-1.
The Mustangs scored their only run after catcher Taylor Petersen’s attempted pickoff throw of a runner at first skipped past both the first baseman and right fielder traveling almost to the wall.
On the errant attempt, the Mustang runner rounded the bases sliding in safe at home.
Megan Wessel started on the hill for the Lady Horns and was credited with the win.
At the plate, Natalie Black was 2-for-4, Chrissy Heron was 1-for-2 and leadoff hitter Rylee Halenar had one hit in four trips to the plate.
Mogollon was its own worst enemy committing four errors.
In Payson’s second tournament game, PHS added on to their modest win streak pounding Buckeye 6-1.
Freshman hurler Devann Runzo picked up the win giving up two hits and striking out two.
Offensively, Petersen — the school’s home run leader — punched a round-trip ticket and Megan Wessel had a single and a double.
Kaitlyn Wessel, Halenar and Heron contributed singles.
Payson’s winning ways came to a screeching halt in the third game with a 5-1 loss to the Flagstaff Eagles.
In the defeat, Payson bats went suddenly silent as Lady Horn hitters managed just two hits off Eagle pitching.
On the tournament’s second day, Payson opened against a Benson team that has been competing in the Classic since its inception six years ago.
Prior to the first pitch being thrown, Benson team members presented a $1,000 check to the Gracie Haught Foundation.
Each year of the tournament, Benson team members make the donation with money earned at various fund-raisers held throughout the year.
“It’s a great gesture in the true spirit of the tournament,” Brown said.
Following the presentation, Benson went on to take a pulsating 3-2 win over the host Lady Horns.
“We played them tough,” said PHS coach Will Dunman.
Benson jumped out to a 2-0 lead early in the game, but the Lady Horns rallied in the top of the sixth to tie up the contest.
It was for naught, however, as Benson scored the winning run in the bottom of the frame.
The Lady Horns’ pursuit of tournament honors ended Saturday afternoon with a 7-1 loss to Santa Cruz.
Despite losing, Dunman remained upbeat saying, “Our girls are playing well, they are right on the edge of winning those close games that we (lost).”
Next up for the Lady Horns is an East Region clash today, March 22, against the visiting Round Valley Elks. Game time is 2:30 p.m.