Top-seeded Payson moved closer to the Division III softball championship with a 5-2 victory over No, 8 Camp Verde in the state tournament on Saturday (May 10) at the Rose Mofford Sports Complex in Phoenix.
The Lady Longhorns had to come back to do it.
Camp Verde had taken a 2-0 lead in the third inning. One runner reached base after being hit by a pitch, but Payson coach Kadi Tenney contended that the ball hit the bat and was foul. The Cowboys then got an infield hit and a two-run triple that appeared to land in foul territory in right field.
Payson got a run in the fourth and went ahead to stay in the fifth on an RBI double by starting pitcher Ari Paulson and a run-scoring single by Payton Peterson.
The Lady Longhorns created some breathing room in the fifth with two more runs on a bunt single by Rachel Spooner and a run-scoring triple by Karlie Smith. The Camp Verde left fielder made a valiant effort and lunged for the ball, but just missed.
Paulson, a senior, and her sophomore sister Arissa combined to limit Camp Verde to four hits and struck out 16.
“Battles like this make us better,’’ Tenney said. “We have had to battle back before. There is a lot of fight in this team.’’
The coach particularly praised Smith for her all-around game (keep an eye on her in the future) and the Paulson sisters. Ari pitched the first four innings, Arissa the last three.
“This was a total team effort. That’s the way it has been for us all season. We have to continue to play that way,’’ Tenney said.
Payson advances to the semifinals and will play on Friday (May 16) at Mofford. First pitch is 5:30 p.m.