The Lady Longhorn softball team travels to Camp Verde today armed with a promising freshman pitcher who could give Payson the finest one-two hurling punch in the state.
Arissa Paulson, younger sister of last year’s pitching sensation Arianna Paulson, turned out for the team last week after being sidelined with an injury possibly incurred during the basketball season.
Arissa debuted in softball on March 25 in a 12-4 win over homestanding Mingus.
“She looked strong, very strong,” said coach Will Dunman.
Against the Marauders, the strong-armed freshman hurled the entire seven innings giving up three hits and striking out 15.
About the only problems she experienced was a lack of control in the fifth when the Marauders scored two runs.
Assistant coach Kadi Tenney said that glitch was to be expected because the frosh hadn’t had much practice time to fine-tune her pitching skills.
After suffering control problems, Arissa rebounded to set down Mingus in order in both the sixth and seventh innings.
When Arissa is on the hill, Arianna — who last spring pitched PHS to the best season in program history and a berth in the state semifinals — will play another position, either in the infield or outfield.
Tenney contends she is a good enough athlete to play most any position, except catcher, “And she’s willing to play wherever we need her.”
Fortunately for the Paulson sisters, they have one of the finest catchers in Division III, Taylor Petersen, to throw to.
Not only is Petersen a fine catcher, she is also a standout hitter who holds the school home run record.
Offensively, Horn bats were on fire, pounding out 14 base hits, six in the four-run second inning.
Arianna, who played first and shortstop with her sister pitching, homered, singled and scored three runs.
Payton Petersen contributed two singles, as did her older sister Taylor.
Cori Barnett had a single and double.
Defensively, the Lady Horns committed two errors —one on a throwing error off a bunt and the other an infield miscue.
Following the win, Dunman took time to breathe a sigh of relief, saying at first he wasn’t sure how the team would respond after the high emotional win in the Gracie Haught tournament just two days earlier.
“You never know how a team’s going to play after what we went through in the tournament,” he said. “But, I’m extremely happy with the way the girls came out.”
Following the showdown in Camp Verde, Payson will be tested in three back-to-back-to-back games.
On April 2, PHS travels to Mogollon and the following day is at Bradshaw Mountain. On April 4, the Lady Horns host Mogollon in the two teams’ annual home and away series.