BASALT - After struggling to work through the top half of the first inning Thursday afternoon, Basalt starter Morgan Young twirled a softball in her hands as she lounged in the dugout.
"My pitches just weren't working out well at first," the junior admitted later. "I was trying to work on the spin."
She turned things around in a hurry - as the entire Grand Valley lineup can attest. Young, who already has a no-hitter on her season resume, overwhelmed the Cardinals on a balmy afternoon in the midvalley. She struck out eight straight during one stretch in the first three innings and allowed few balls to leave the infield. The Longhorns bats came alive in the fourth, erupting for eight runs to turn a tight contest into an eventual 13-3 rout that was called in the fifth because of the mercy rule.
Basalt now is 4-2.
"This team has huge upside, and the hardest thing for coaches to do is to get the girls to realize their potential and reach it," Longhorns head coach Bruce Matherly said. "We're still trying to figure out a few positions, but the thing I like about this group is that they've been very dedicated and very determined."
Pitching likely is not one of Matherly's concerns. While she struggled in the first and last innings, Young was nearly unhittable for three innings. The Glenwood Springs High School student walked the game's first batter, who eventually came around to score on Ashley Radel's single, but she struck out two to quell the threat in the opening inning.
The next six Cardinals to step into the batter's box also were punched out.
"She got on top and was throwing a lot of strikes," Matherly said. "It really helps keep the defense focused when pitches are around the zone all the time."
Young received some help from the Basalt offense, which scored two runs in both the first and third innings. Coincidentally, all four were scored on dropped third strikes.
The Longhorns produced just three hits in the fourth but managed to blow things wide open. They sent 11 to the plate and produced eight runs - two on wild pitches, one on a bases-loaded walk and another on an error. Gavin LaCroix hit an RBI triple to the wall in left field, and Shelley Briscoe, Jamie Briscoe and Carina Capobianco drove in runs on fielder's choices.
"That gives me a nice calming experience," Young said of the offensive output. "I didn't have to worry about runners getting on base."
Haley Johnson touched up Young for a two-run double in the fifth to momentarily extend the game, but Shelley Briscoe finished off the Cardinals (1-6) with an RBI single up the middle in Basalt's next at-bat.
"The goal is to keep improving each week," Matherly said. "We'll have a good feeling about where we're at after this weekend."
Basalt travels to Colorado Springs Friday to take on Falcon, then battles The Classical Academy on Saturday.