Buckle up Longhorn softball fans, we’re experiencing some turbulence.
No one could have expected a smooth flight to a 3A East softball championship for any team in this most competitive of regions.
And it’s certainly been a bumpy trip so far for Payson.
But the runway is in sight for the Longhorns. If they get through one last cloud bank, they may just land on championship island.
But the captain has turned on the fasten seatbelt sign ahead of tonight’s 6 p.m. senior night encounter with Tropical Storm Show Low.
The Cougars caused some damage to Payson’s record with an 8-7 walk-off victory in Show Low on March 29.
A stunning 14-1 loss to to Blue Ridge on Monday night hurt Show Low's title bid. Still, the No. 6 Cougars enter tonight’s showdown at 5-3 in the region. The Longhorns and Winslow are both 6-2 with two games remaining. They split their two games against each other.
A loss to Show Low (9-4) wouldn’t eliminate the Longhorns from title contention, but would be a significant blow to their chances, as well as their confidence with the state tournament looming.
Payson showed its resolve by putting a heartbreaking 7-6 home-field loss to No. 2 Winslow on Thursday night behind it to win 8-6 at No. 5 Snowflake (No. 3 at the time of the game) on Friday.
The Longhorns, stood at No. 5 in Friday’s 3A rankings before beating Chino Valley 13-0 in a five-inning non-region in Payson on Saturday afternoon that leaves then at No. 4 in Tuesday's rankings.
Payson is 13-3 in power points games.
They play a non-region game at Phoenix Northwest Christian on Wednesday afternoon, before closing the regular season at 3A East rival Blue Ridge on Monday. The Yellow Jackets have struggled in region action, carrying a 1-5 record into Monday’s game against Show Low. However, they were 8-5 and ranked No. 9 in the state.
So that game is not a certain win for Payson.
Hopefully they’ll fly into it a win away from their first 3A East championship in several years and possibly the outright title.
That really depends on how intact their plane is after tonight.