The euphoria of being ranked No. 1 for the first time ever in the state power points has worn off and the elation of beating longtime rival Show Low, 7-1, is settling in.
Late last week, the Lady Longhorn softball team reached the top spot in Division III power point rankings, but the stay was short.
Only hours after reaching the top spot, unbeaten Estrella Foothills (17-0), which had been the poll leader all season long, reported results of an April 19 game which pushed the team past PHS into first place.
With the move, the Lady Horns, 15-0 in the regular season and 24-3 overall, fell to second place about three points behind EF.
A testament to the Lady Horns’ prowess, regardless of power points, is the results of recent games — in the past five games the Lady Horns have outscored their opponents by a whopping 50-4 margin.
However, with just two games remaining in the regular season, the team appears destined to finish second or third in power points unless Estrella loses one of its final games.
In defeating Show Low April 20, which highlighted the team’s annual benefit barbecue dinner that was attended by more than 500 fans, the Lady Horns jumped out 4-0 in the bottom of the first, expanded the lead to 5-0 the following inning and tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the sixth.
The Cougars scored their only run off winning pitcher Arianna Paulson in the sixth inning.
Over the course of 6-1/2 innings Paulson gave up four hits and struck out 14.
In addition to throwing a gem, Paulson was a threat at the plate swatting a triple and driving in two runs.
Kaitlyn Wessel also had a triple and had two RBIs
Natalie Black, Karessa Armstrong and Kaitlyn Jones also drove in runs.
Defensively, both teams played exceptionally with Payson committing the only error of the game.
The Lady Horns return to action today, April 24, at home vs. Camp Verde and wrap up the regular season the following day in Lakeside against Blue Ridge.
Earlier this season, Payson run-ruled Camp Verde 15-0, but fell 2-1 to Blue Ridge.
The Lady Horns’ only other losses the past season was 4-1 to Willow Canyon and 1-0 to Estrella Foothills. All the losses were in tournaments and do not count in the regular season standings or power points.
With two wins the team could wrap up the program’s first-ever unbeaten regular season.