Start Of Something Special?

Softball team routs Mingus

Payson shortstop Arissa Paulson snags the low throw as Cottonwood Mingus’ Amber Rippy steals second base during the third inning of Wednesday’s season-opening game. It was one of the few things that went right for the Marauders as she was stranded at second and the Longhorns won 11-1 in six innings. Paulson smashed a three-run home run to end the game on the 10-run mercy rule.

Payson shortstop Arissa Paulson snags the low throw as Cottonwood Mingus’ Amber Rippy steals second base during the third inning of Wednesday’s season-opening game. It was one of the few things that went right for the Marauders as she was stranded at second and the Longhorns won 11-1 in six innings. Paulson smashed a three-run home run to end the game on the 10-run mercy rule. Photo by Keith Morris. |

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It didn’t take long for this year’s edition of Payson High’s varsity softball team to begin showing why Longhorn supporters are so excited about the possibilities for this season.

PHS sent nine batters to the plate in scoring five runs in the first inning and senior Arianna Paulson dominated Cottonwood Mingus hitters as the Longhorns opened the season with an 11-1 six-inning mercy victory at Payson on Wednesday afternoon.

Paulson struck out 11 Marauders in the same kind of performance that earned her a softball scholarship from Brigham Young University and helped PHS reach the Division III state semifinals the past two seasons.

Her younger sister, meanwhile, was one of the hitting heroes. The sophomore belted a double and clobbered a three-run home run with one out in the bottom of the sixth to put Mingus on the bus back to Cottonwood early.

Junior Cori Barnett also came up big at the plate, swatting a pair of doubles and driving in three for Payson, which smashed out 10 hits. Freshman Karlie Smith was 2-for-2 with an RBI and sophomore Jewel Johnson singled and drove in a pair.

Mingus’ lone run came on a wild pitch.

“Arianna pitched well,” said first-year PHS head coach Kadi Tenney. “This was a great performance for her first game back on the field. She walked a couple. She won’t do that later in the season. She’s still working back into her control after being off for basketball season.”

The coach was impressed with her team’s defense. The Longhorns committed one error.

“That’s just fantastic,” Tenney said. “I mean they didn’t get a lot of opportunity to hit because Ari really took control of them. But anything they put in play we really took control of and did a good job of executing on.”

Arissa Paulson capped the day with a long blast over the left-center field fence.

“I won’t be surprised if she hits one to the road one day,” Tenney said with a laugh. “That one was just shy.”

The 10th-grader crushed the first pitches she saw from Krista Earl with two on and one out in the sixth after the freshman came on to start the inning in relief of senior Kaetana Skornik, who PHS hitters touched for seven hits and five walks and eight runs — five earned — in five innings.

“It felt good,” she said of the blast. “It came off (the bat) smooth.”

She was glad to help her team start a year in which expectations are so high on the right note. “It’s important to start off with a win,” Arissa Paulson said. “Then we can just keep going up from there.”

Tenney was thrilled the team won in her debut as the head coach after many seasons as an assistant in the program.

“I was so nervous,” she said. “They just made it easy for me. It’s just a pleasure to be associated with them.”

After years of coaching first base, Tenney moved over to the third-base coaching box like most head coaches. And she shouldered the blame for one of the two Longhorns nailed going to third by the Marauders.

“It’s nerve-racking,” she said. “I have to think about a lot more than I have to on first base. At least one of the girls that got thrown out at third was my fault because I didn’t hold her up with enough enthusiasm. I need to be a little louder, bigger on third base so they know exactly what to do. They’re teaching me as we go. So we’re learning together.”

It was PHS’s only home game prior to the Gracie Haught Invitational on March 21-22. The Horns are playing in the Wickenburg Invitational today and Saturday, at Camp Verde on Tuesday and at Fountain Hills on March 18.

Payson 11, Mingus 1 (6 inn.)

Mingus ab r h bi Payson ab r h bi

Lewis cf 2 0 0 0 AnPaulson p 4 2 2 0

Rippy 3b 3 0 0 0 Dunman 2b 3 0 0 0

Ortiz 1b 3 0 0 0 Petersen c 3 2 1 0

Rabideau dh 3 0 2 0 AsPaulson ss 4 3 2 3

Fanning cr 0 1 0 0 Barnett cf 3 2 2 3

Moffitt ss 2 0 0 0 Smith rf 2 2 2 1

Zillmer lf 2 0 0 0 Johnson 1b 3 0 1 2

Skornik p 2 0 0 0 Tenney lf 1 0 0 0

Morones 2b 2 0 0 0 Novack lf 0 0 0 0

Bailey c 1 0 1 0 Bauer 3b 3 0 0 0

Earl p 0 0 0 0

Totals 21 1 3 0 Totals 26 11 10 9

Mingus 0 1 0 0 0 0 - 1

Payson 5 0 0 0 3 3 - 11

E-Mingus 3, Payson. DP-Mingus. LOB-Mingus 4, Payson 4. 2B-As. Paulson, Barnett 2. HR-As. Paulson. SB-Fanning, Rippy. BB-Lewis, Moffitt, Dunman, Petersen, Smith, Tenney, Novack.

Mingus IP R ER H BB K

Kaetana Skornik (L, 0-1) 5 8 5 7 5 6

Krista Earl 1/3 3 3 3 0 1

WP-Skornik 2.

Payson IP R ER H BB K

Arianna Paulson (W, 1-0) 6 1 0 3 2 11

WP-An. Paulson 1.

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