The northern Arizona Monsoon girls fast-pitch softball team — which is comprised of players from Payson, Lakeside and Winslow — did small-town Arizona proud by playing to a second-place finish in the ASA State B 14-years-and-under tournament played July 6 to 8 in Kingman.
As fine a performance as the girls turned in, there were moments of sadness following the tournament as players bid adieu to one of their coaches, former Lady Horn star Candice Johnson, who has married and will soon be moving to Texas.
After graduating from PHS, Johnson played at Sul Ross State University in Texas where she was named the school’s “Female Athlete of the Year.”
“It was a sad moment for the girls,” said team spokesperson Felicia Moore. “She was a great inspiration to the team.
“She will be missed.”
During the course of the three days of the tournament, the Monsoon played five games opening with a 16-3 win over the Kingman Crush. In the second go-around, the Monsoon run-ruled the Twisters before falling to the Prescott Valley LunaChicks, the tournament’s eventual champions.
The Monsoon battled back through the losers bracket to again face the LunaChicks — this time in the tournament championship.
Although the Monsoon lost, 5-1, Moore says, “Our girls battled hard this weekend in 103-degree temperatures.”
Karlie Smith, Analiese Hays and Jewel Johnson handled the pitching chores during the tournament.
The Monsoon, coached by former Lady Horn and RCMS head coach Curtis Johnson, debuted March 25 at Rumsey Park where the team played host to the Camp Verde Juggernauts.
Following the season opener, the Monsoon went on to play in United States Sports Specialty Association (USSSA) and Amateur Softball Association (ASA) tournaments, mostly in the Valley.
In all, the team competed in about 10 tournaments.
The Monsoon is slated to play in Payson in an ASA tournament beginning July 28 at Rumsey Park.