Lady Longhorns Softball Team Adds A Page To History Books

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In 2012, the Lady Longhorns added yet another defining moment in Longhorn sports with the “Miracle at Mofford” – a come from behind win in the state tournament.

That game will join a storied lineup of never-to-be-forgotten moments in Longhorn history that already includes Bob Halenar’s 1981 tackle for a loss of a Round Valley Elk on a two-point conversion opened the door to a state football championship. Other historic moments include Jeff Pettet’s game winning free throws in the waning moments of the 1979 state championship basketball game at Arizona State University and the 1999 Class 3A state baseball championship game in which Bryan Zumbro pitched the Horns to an 23-11 upset win over a No. 1 ranked Cactus Shadows.

So last spring’s Lady Longhorns rally from a seven-point deficit against Mingus in a state tournament quarterfinal game has some tough competition when it comes to gusty performances by Longhorn teams.

Here’s the way we covered it:

“Trailing 7-0 in the bottom of the seventh and final inning, the dreams of Payson High’s first state softball championship were slipping.

But then miraculously, the never-say-die Lady Longhorns staged one of the most amazing rallies ever witnessed in prep softball to edge a gutsy Mingus Marauder team 8-7.

“In the Saturday state quarterfinal game at the Rose Mofford Complex in Phoenix, the Lady Longhorns played 6-1/2 innings like a high school version of the 1962 New York Mets team that fumbled and bumbled its way to a 40-120 record.

But despite five errors and numerous mental mistakes that dominated a sloppy game for the first six innings, the PHS players came alive in their final at-bats to score seven runs. That included a grand slam homer by Taylor Petersen. That dead-knotted the game 7-7 and sent the playoff game into an extra inning.

In the top of the eighth, Payson’s pitching ace Arianna Paulson — who had uncharacteristically given up two home runs in the top of the seventh — rose to the occasion to set the Marauders down in order.

“The first Mingus player to bat grounded out weakly to Paulson and the second flied out to shortstop Natalie Black. The third batter hit a sharp grounder to third baseman Devann Runzo, who fielded the ball cleanly and threw to first baseman Kaitlyn Wessel for the third out.

“Hooray, great pitching — great defense.

“In the bottom of the eighth, with victory now within grasp, freshman Payton Petersen — the younger sister of standout catcher Taylor Petersen — lined the first pitch offered up to center field, sending her to first where she represented the winning run.

In baseball and softball, a winning strategy on hitting and base running is often, “get ’em on, get ’em over and get ’em in,” which is exactly what unfolded.

“After Runzo — a slap hitting lead-off hitter flied out — Megan Wessel bunted herself on to base, sending Petersen into scoring position at second.

Paulson, next up, fouled off three pitches before lining a double into right field.

Payton Petersen, who was off and running on the hit, steamed into third where she was excitedly waved home by head coach Will Dunman.

The throw to the plate from the Mingus right fielder beat Petersen to the plate, but the PHS freshman slid feet first. The ball popped loose from the Mingus catcher and rolled harmlessly behind her.

‘She’s safe,” the home plate umpire signaled, sending the PHS players into a wild celebration that would rival the Miracle on Ice post-game party.

“In the stands, Payson fans and boosters celebrated with equal enthusiasm knowing their players had pulled off the most improbable of comebacks.”

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