The Lady Longhorn softball team took another step forward toward an unbeaten regular season by humbling the Salt River Eagles 12-2 in a game shortened to 5-1/2 innings on the 10-run mercy rule.
Playing April 17 on Payson High diamond, workman-like pitching from mound ace Arianna Paulson and the hitting of DeVann Runzo and Megan Wessel propelled the Lady Horns to the win and improved their overall record to 23-3, 14-0 in the regular season.
The Lady Horns’ only losses were in two tournaments — the Gracie Haught Classic and the Buckeye Invitational.
Against Paulson, who might be the finest pitcher in Division III, the Eagles mustered four hits and single runs in the top of the first and fourth innings.
Paulson struck out 12 in just five innings.
Payson countered with a blistering 13-hit attack that featured a five-run third inning that pushed Payson out to an 11-1 lead from which the red hot ladies in purple never looked back.
Runzo, Megan Wessel and Paulson contributed two hits each to an offense that was running on all cylinders, much line a fine-tuned V-8.
Wessel’s hits included a triple and single and Paulson ripped a pair of doubles.
Paulson also had three RBIs and catcher Taylor Petersen drove in two runs on a single and sacrifice fly.
Megan Wessel also drove in a run and was officially credited with four “QABs” or Quality at Bats, which counts the number of times on base including walks and opponent errors.
“We had some good hits, hit the ball hard,” said coach Will Dunman. “Everyone put the ball in play.”
The blowout win gave the coaching staff the chance to play some of the younger players to give them varsity experience. Newcomers Payton Petersen and Sadie Dunman saw extensive action.
The win lifted the Lady Horns temporarily into first place in the all-important power points standings that will be used to seed teams into the state tournament.
That ranking, however, will most likely change when Estrella Foothills enters the results of an April 17 game vs. Buckeye and Benson enters results from a game against St. David also on Tuesday.
EF is 14-0 and has held the No. 1 ranking most of the season. Benson is 13-1 and has been ranked second just tenths of a power point ahead of third-rated Payson.