The Bermuda Triangle, Loch Ness Monster, Stonehenge and the Fountain of Youth are some of the great mysteries of the world.
But after recent tabulations of coaches’ voting for All-Division III and All-Section III softball players, another puzzler could be added to the list.
It involves the fact only one PHS player, Arianna Pauslon, was selected for postseason honors after the Lady Horns wrapped up the finest season in school history, finishing 29-4 overall, advancing to the state tournament semifinals and compiling the most power points in the division during regular season play.
Local sports aficionado Brian McMinimy is among those taken aback by the exclusion of the Lady Horns from individual post-season laurels, “Ridiculous — Payson had a season for the ages and the awards should have reflected that.”
Lady Horn coach Will Dunman whole-heartedly agrees, “It was a disservice to the kids. Our players deserve a lot more recognition after the season we had.”
Most astonishing is that on the all-section III team, in which PHS is aligned, Estrella Foothills had a whopping eight players named first team.
That’s a head-scratching anomaly in high school sports where no single team traditionally dominates voting to such a degree.
Reasons vary why coaches did not select more Payson honorees. First off, divisions and sections now contain many more players and teams than did the conference/ region configuration of past years.
Which means there are many more talented players vying for coaches’ votes and the process is much more competitive than in the former school alignment.
Also in the division-section format, coaches often do not get to see all players they are to vote for actually play.
Instead, coaches vote online rather than in head to head meetings as had been a tradition for decades.
In the new configuration, there were coaches who never personally saw the Lady Horns play and did not have a good grasp on their talent or contributions.
Dunman is among the many coaches around the state pointing to online voting as flawed.
“I don’t like it (online) and it is not a true picture of which kids were most deserving (of post-season honors),” he said. “There are some of our players and others around the state who deserved to be chosen and weren’t.”
Although Paulson was the only PHS player chosen by coaches to all-section or all-division, catcher Taylor Petersen was named on Sunday to the Arizona Republic’s All-DIII second team as a utility player.
Megan Wessel, Kaitlyn Wessel and Petersen are among the players who seemingly had the banner seasons needed to get recognized both all-division and all-section.
Megan Wessel turned in some lofty hitting credentials including a .383 average with three triples, four doubles and 37 runs scored.
Kaitlyn Wessel hit .371 with five triples, four doubles, a home run and drew a team-high 19 walks.
Both were also sound defensively playing in the infield.
Petersen, the school home run record holder, finished with a .343 average with 26 RBIs and 16 runs scored.
She also slugged four home runs, two of which came in the season-ending state tournament.
Paulson on top
While there are those grumbling about the exclusion of some of the Lady Horn players, the choice of Paulson to the D-III and S-III first teams is being hailed as wise.
During the season, she stamped herself as one of the finest hurlers in the state, compiling a miniscule .44 ERA and a 24-4 record.
In 157.1 innings pitched, she struck out 309 opposing hitters, walked just 38 and gave up only 70 hits.
Offensively, Paulson’s robust .594 average was one of the best in the state. She also slugged a team-high five home runs, seven triples and 22 doubles. She also led the team in RBIs with 61 and struck out just eight times. Her slugging percentage of 1.125 is among the highest in the division.
In the Arizona Republic’s selections, however, Paulson did not make the D-III first team, falling instead to a second-team pitcher.
Jackie Aguilar of Bourgade, Florence’s Mikayla Austin and Kasia Smith of Estrella Foothills, all seniors, were the three first-team pitchers.
Paulson is a sophomore.