Ready for a showdown?
How about a couple of them?
Well, this is your week.
Three of the top Division 3 softball teams in the state go at it the next two days at Payson High.
The Longhorns are No. 1 in the power rankings. Perennial powerhouse Winslow is No. 2 and Show Low No. 3. Unbeaten Winslow takes on Payson today at 3 o’clock. Show Low is here at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
PHS enters today’s game at 17-8 overall and 8-0 in games counting in the power rankings, which are basically all non-tournament contests.
Winslow is 19-0 overall and 10-0 in power points games.
Payson coach Kadi Tenney said it would be good for her team to face the kind of challenges they’ll get from both the Bulldogs and Cougars.
“I think it’s going to be a good gauge of where we’re at,” she said. “It’s coming at a good time; we’re about midway through.”
Tenney said she hasn’t even discussed the Longhorns’ ranking or Winslow’s or Show Low’s for that matter, with her players.
“We have not been talking about rankings,” Tenney said. “That’s not a point of focus for me. I just want them to play their best game. It doesn’t matter if we’re No. 1 or No. 24, we’re going to go in looking to play our best ball game. It doesn’t matter who we play, we’ve got to go in playing our game and not the other team’s game. We’re going to prepare for (Tuesday) just like we’re going to prepare for any game.”
She said winning or losing either or both of these games won’t be all that significant in the grand scheme of things.
“It’s great (playing these games),” Tenney said. “Games are where we test our skills. I’m extremely confident in the girls’ ability. But a win’s not going to make our season and a loss isn’t going to break our season. Win or lose, we learn something from it.
“Some coaches speculate that a loss might be better for us than a win because we’ll learn from it. But we play to win. We shoot for the win and see what happens.”
Today’s game should go a long way toward deciding the Section 5 championship. Teams play only eight section games and it’s clear PHS and Winslow are not only two of the best teams in the section, but the division, as well. The Longhorns have reached the state semifinals each of the last two seasons and the Bulldogs have played in the state title game the past five years.
Payson leads the section with a 3-0 record. Show Low is 2-0 and Winslow 1-0.
Wednesday’s game against Show Low is a non-section battle. The rematch at Show Low on April 25 is the game counting in the section standings. The Cougars are 17-5 overall and 9-0 in power points games.
PHS is coming off an 8-2 victory at Cottonwood Mingus on Friday. It’s the Horns’ fifth consecutive victory since the Gracie Haught Classic. Arianna Paulson scattered five hits for the win and Arissa Paulson belted a two-run homer over the center field fence to lead the Longhorns’ six-hit attack.
“The Mingus pitcher frustrated our offense, but we were able to capitalize on their defensive errors to score some early runs,” Tenney said. “Arianna pitched a solid game as usual. It wasn’t the prettiest way to win but a win is a win.”
Div. 3 Section 5 Softball
W L GB W L
Payson 3 0 - 8 0
Show Low 2 0 0.5 9 0
Winslow 1 0 1 10 0
Holbrook 1 1 1.5 5 5
Alchesay 0 0 1.5 1 8
Blue Ridge 1 2 2 6 4
Globe 0 1 2 2 5
Snowflake 0 2 2.5 5 3
Round Valley 0 2 2.5 4 6
Tuesday, April 8
Section 5 Games
Winslow at Payson, 3 p.m.
Alchesay at Show Low, 4 p.m.
Snowflake at Round Valley, 3:30 p.m.
Wednesday, April 9
Section 5 Game
Holbrook at Blue Ridge, 4 p.m.
Show Low at Payson, 4 p.m.
St. Johns at Snowflake, 3 p.m.
Thursday, April 10
Section 5 Games
Globe at Show Low, 4 p.m.
Round Valley at Alchesay, 4 p.m.