The Payson High School varsity softball team blew through three games in two days winning all three.
“We have to make up for games canceled due to weather and illness,” said assistant coach Kadi Tenney of the intense schedule.
The rapid-fire schedule will continue this Friday and into next week with the girls playing three more games in three days.
On Tuesday, the Lady Longhorns played against Salt River twice, with both games succumbing to the mercy rule by the fifth inning.
Payson handily won the first game 20 to 2 and the second 13 to 0.
Alisa Wessel, the mother of sisters Megan and Kaitlyn, watched the game at the Payson field.
“(Salt River’s) pitching is at the perfect speed to hit,” she said.
Just then, Ari Paulson hit a home run over the fence.
After Ari, Taylor Petersen and then her sister Payton each hit homers over the fence: Three home runs in a row.
After each home run, the Payson team rushed onto the field cheering to high-five the runner as she came into home.
“The girls are always playing pranks on each other and joking around in the dugout,” said Wessel of how the team keeps up its energy.
Wednesday, the girls faced a tougher trial against Show Low.
“It’s a rivalry game,” said Will Dunman, head coach, “We tell our kids, ‘Never take it for granted you’ll win. Show Low is always a good ball team to play.”
Dunman and Tenney said the team always amps up its game against northern Arizona rivals Show Low, Blue Ridge and Snowflake.
“A lot of those girls play club ball together,” said Dunman.
Show Low kept the Payson team to a score of 9 to 2.
Dunman said Payson lost those two runs when an outfielder made an error.
“But that was the only error of the game,” he said.
Tenney said Ari pitched 13 strikeouts and went three-for-three at bat.
“She hit two doubles and a triple,” said Tenney.
Payton went one-for-three with a triple.
Kaitlyn Wessel had a triple.
Taylor hit a couple of doubles.
Watching her first game in weeks due to serious illness, senior Karessa Armstrong dressed in her uniform to watch her teammates. Armstrong has been seriously ill since the March spring break spending two months in the hospital from a mysterious infection that turned septic.
“The doctor said she may come to watch the games, but that is it,” said Armstrong’s mother Marlene.
Karessa had a bag of chocolate chip cookies for her teammates to enjoy after the game.
Many of the Payson girls have played together since their elementary days.
Wessel said she moved to Payson when her daughters were in fifth grade.
“We came from the Valley and had never seen fast-pitch softball before,” she said.
Her twin daughters Megan and Kaitlyn fell in love with the game after arriving in Payson.
Wessel said the two girls plan on attending Grand Canyon University next year.
Payson will face Show Low again today, April 19, on the Cougars’ home field.
The three games next week are all at the PHS diamond. On Monday, April 22 the team will play Page at 2 p.m. On Tuesday, April 23 against Camp Verde, the junior varsity team will play at 4 p.m. and the varsity will play at 6 p.m. The team’s last game before the state playoffs will be at 5 p.m., Wednesday, April 24 against Blue Ridge.
“Our first playoff game will be Friday, May 3,” said Tenney.
Playoffs will be held at the Rose Mofford Sport Complex in Phoenix.
Wessel said last year, the girls lost to a private Catholic school. She said she’s heard that their star pitcher graduated last year and hopes Payson can go all the way this year.