Victories over the visiting Camp Verde Cowboys on April 23 assured the Payson High School softball and baseball teams they will be seeded into the Division III state tournament.
Playing on the PHS softball diamond, the Lady Longhorns improved their record to 23-4 with a 9-0 win thumping of the Cowboys. The baseball team’s 9-3 victory vs. Camp Verde upped Payson’s record to 17-9 overall.
Prior to both the baseball and softball games, the graduating seniors from both teams were honored during annual “Senior Night” festivities.
Also, both games were played under the lights partly because the softball team hosted its traditional barbecue benefit dinner early in the afternoon while junior varsity games were under way.
Throngs of baseball and softball fans flocked to the dinner to enjoy the scrumptious deep-pit barbecue dinner prepared by renowned cowboy chef Albert Hunt.
Lady Horn assistant coach Kadi Tenney, Hunt’s daughter, said that the total number of dinners served has not been counted, but good numbers turned out for the benefit.
For Senior Night activities, the team honored Lady Horns Kaitlyn Wessel, Megan Wessel, Taylor Petersen and Karessa Armstrong.
The Wessel twins and Petersen were at their best on the night they were being honored, “All three of them were on fire,” said Tenney.
Armstrong, however, has been sidelined most of the season with an illness and had to watch the ceremonies from the stands.
Over on the baseball field, Gunner Goodman — the team’s lone senior — was honored.
“He plays all the time and has a huge heart,” said coach Brian Young. “He has done a good job being a leader and rallying guys around him.
“Sometimes there is a lot of pressure on him being the only senior, but he handles it well.”
Both the baseball and softball seniors responded with outstanding efforts as Goodman finished 2-for-3 at the plate with a walk and run scored. He also recorded the game’s final out on an exceptional fielding play in which he cut off a batted ball up the middle — that at first appeared to be a base hit — and threw to first to nip the Cowboy base runner by a step.
In softball, Petersen — the school home run recordholder — slugged two home runs while Megan Wessel was 3-for-4, slugging a single, double and triple. Kaitlyn Wessel swatted two singles and drove in two runs.
Lady Horns pitching ace Arianna Paulson got the starting nod and went the distance shutting out the frustrated CV hitters.
In baseball vs. the Cowboys, Tyus Sarnowski started and threw 4-2/3 innings giving up four hits and striking out five. Dailey Carnes relieved and pitched the final 2-1/3 innings without giving up a hit or run.
“Our pitchers can be dominating at times but right now the challenge is finding the right combination of guys,” said Young.
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