Payson High School’s first-ever state softball championship has slipped out of the Lady Longhorns’ grasp.
The title squirted away May 10 at Rose Mofford Field in Phoenix, where the Winslow Bulldogs ran roughshod over PHS, winning the state semifinal showdown 14-4 in a game truncated after five innings on the 10-run rule.
Looking back, the Lady Horns were their own worst enemies, committing five costly errors.
Payson kept the score close until the fourth and fifth innings, when miscues allowed the Lady Bulldogs to score a game-deciding nine runs.
Until the outburst, the Lady Horns trailed only 5-4.
Contrary to Payson’s defensive lapses, Winslow committed just one error.
Offensively, Winslow’s Taylor Baca was a thorn in Payson’s side all game long, going 3-for-4 with a double, two runs scored and 4 RBIs.
The Lady Horns took to the state tournament a lofty No. 2 seed and were one of the favorites, along with No. 1 Empire, to win the Division III state tournament.
Payson lived up to the billing in state early rounds, beating Thatcher 9-0 and River Valley 7-3.
But against Winslow, a team still mourning the loss of its former coach Becky Burris who was killed in a car accident, the Lady Horns were doomed by their sloppy play.
In the other state semifinal game also played May 10 at Mofford, No. 5 Estrella Foothills edged favored Empire 2-1.
In the D-III state championship the following day, Estrella bested Winslow 12-4 to win the state crown.
While the Lady Horns didn’t stake claim to the state championship they had their sights set on, the team did win the program’s first-ever tournament title by finishing first in the Gracie Haught Classic March 22-23 in Payson.
In the championship game, the Lady Horns defeated Estrella Foothills 7-5.