The Payson High baseball and softball teams are continuing their march through the 2013 campaign with sights set on piling up wins and earning enough power points to be receive berths into the postseason.
The Lady Longhorns could move up in the next points rankings mostly because they improved their regular season record with a 12-3 win over Bradshaw Mountain and a 21-1 shellacking of Mogollon.
The Longhorn baseball team, however, won’t see much movement in the rankings because they spent much of last week playing in Estrella Foothills Invitational and tournament games do not count in power point ratings.
In the tournament played April 4 to 6 at EFHS, the Horns opened with a disappointing 6-4 loss to Blue Ridge after leading early in the game 4-0.
Following the loss, Payson rebounded to defeat Chino Valley 8-1 and Wickenburg 17-5.
In the tournament’s championship semifinal, the Horns lost 11-1 to a very good Verrado team.
Following the tournament, coaches voted Nick McMullen and Gunner Goodman to the all-tournament team.
The Lady Horns traveled April 3 to Bradshaw Mountain believing the Bears would be a formidable opponent.
That was not the case, however, as the Horns cruised to the victory that was called off after five innings on the 10-run mercy rule. Bradshaw touched starting pitcher Arianna Paulson for three runs in the bottom of the first, but that was all the Bears would score as the Payson ace shut out BM hitters over the final four innings. In those frames, Paulson struck out seven and, over the course of the entire game, struck out eight.
While Arianna Paulson was dominating on the hill, her younger sister, Arissa, was pounding BM pitching for three hits, including a triple and a booming home run to left center that assistant coach Kadi Tenney contends, “Would have gone out of a lot of baseball parks.”
Against Heber, the Division IV Mustangs were simply no match for the Lady Horns who were red hot after coming off a tournament championship performance in the Gracie Haught Classic.
Payson scored six runs in the first sending 13 batters to the plate. The blitzkrieg continued throughout the five innings with the Lady Horns piling up run after run.
At the plate Arisssa Paulson was 3-for-3 with ah home run and a triple.
Stars shine at EF
The selection of McMullen and Goodman to the Estrella Foothills teams seems to be a no-brainer mostly because both posted lofty credentials over the course of the three days.
McMullen was 8-for-15, with two home runs, two triples, two doubles, six RBI’s and a stolen base.
“He also pitched well in the loss to Blue Ridge,” said coach Brian Young.
Goodman was 7-for-14 with three runs scored, two RBI’s two doubles and he pitched one scoreless inning.
Young contends Dailey Carnes was also a strong candidate for all tournament honors considering he finished 8-for-17 with four runs scored, two doubles, two triples, five RBI’s and three stolen bases.
Although a 2-2 tournament record was not what Young was hoping for, the coach left EFHS satisfied with team’s play.
“The team, myself included, felt very good when we walked off the field Saturday morning,” he said. “We never like to end with a loss, but with the way we bounced back and played Friday and Saturday was high quality.
“It would have been nice to be 4-0, but if we were, we probably wouldn’t have learned as much as we did.”
Young believes that the tournament results and quality of competition has convinced the PHS players they have the talent and ability to play with any of Division III’s big dogs.
“We played in the toughest pool and no doubt had the toughest Saturday,” he said.
“I believe we are ready for the stretch run and the final eight power point games we have over the next couple of weeks.
The Horns return to action tomorrow, April 10 in PHS stadium against coach David Nikolaus’s Show Low Cougars.
The cats have one of the state’s finest pitchers in Zach Winn, but Nikolaus would not confirm whether or not he would throw the ace against PHS,
“It’s going to take a team effort to compete with Show Low,” Young predicts.