The Lady Longhorns softball team, fresh off a 29-4 season in which it reached the state semifinals, should be well represented when the results of coaches’ voting for the All-Division III first and second teams are announced on May 26.
Arianna Paulson, Taylor Petersen, Megan Wessel and Kaitlin Wessel could draw good numbers of votes because their .300-plus batting averages are sure to impress the division’s coaches.
Paulson’s robust .594 average is certain to catch the eye of coaches, as is her power hitting that included 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.
Although Paulson is only a sophomore, the hitting statistics she compiled during the season almost assures her a spot on the all-division team.
Megan Wessel also turned in some lofty hitting credentials including a .383 average with three triples, four doubles and 37 runs scored.
Kaitlin Wessel hit .371 with five triples, four doubles and a home run.
She also drew a team-high 19 walks, which is a tribute to her discipline at the plate.
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.
In an 8-7 extra inning win over Mingus during the state quarterfinals, she lofted a grand slam home run over the center field fence that pulled the Lady Horns to within 7-6.
While coaches look closely at hitting when electing post-season honorees, they also consider pitching.
That’s where Paulson is again a candidate for the all-division first team.
During the season she stamped herself 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.
Even though she will be a year older and more experienced next year when she is a junior at PHS, it’s difficult to imagine compiling better pitching stats.
Her greatest competition for all-division honors will probably come from Bourgade Catholic senior Jackie Aguilar.
The two went head to head May 11 in the state quarterfinals with Aguilar claiming the victory.
Paulson, however, gave up just one earned run of the seven scored in the win over PHS that eliminated the Lady Horns from the tournament.
In All-Division III balloting for pitchers, coaches may vote for six. The top three will be named to the all-division first team and the next three named all-division second team.
In voting, coaches also consider defense, which might be a bad omen for the Lady Horns, especially those who took in the Bourgade vs. Payson state game in which the team committed six costly errors.
During the season, the Lady Horns were charged with 50 errors which is certainly a less than impressive mark, especially considering the team had a strike-out type pitcher.
Coaches’ online balloting begins May 22 and closes May 25.
Coaches, including Payson’s Will Dunman, have until May 19 to nominate their players.
Although the Lady Horns were assigned the past season to Section III, a subdivision of Division III, sectional play was of no consequence,
PHS played in only 10 section games all season long and sectional team standings were not formally kept.
However, an All-Section III team will be selected in the same manner the all-division squad is chosen.
In Division III there were three sections. Among those in S-III with PHS were Bourgade, Estrella Foothills, River Valley, Wickenburg and others.