Basalt softball hooks second straight Western Slope title
October 12, 2009
GUNNISON, Colo. – The battle for the 3A Western Slope softball conference crown came down to the season’s final weekend for a second straight year.
Once again, Basalt pulled off the implausible.
The Longhorns erupted for eight runs in the fifth inning of Saturday’s doubleheader in Gunnison to erase a six-run deficit and eventually pull out a 16-13 win. They trailed, 5-1, after two innings in Game 2, but somehow mustered one more rally to pull out an 8-7 win, securing a school record 14th victory and, more important, a second consecutive league title.
“The best thing is, they showed a lot of character,” Longhorns head coach Bruce Matherly said. “They don’t get down. They know they can win.”
Alexa Aitken pulled off a daring steal of home in the seventh inning to seal a 54 comeback win over Gunnison in Game 1 of 2008 regular-season ending doubleheader. In Game 2, the Longhorns provided some late-inning heroics once more, scoring five times in their final at-bat to pull off another one-run win.
It appeared as though the script would be different this time around. Basalt lead-off hitter Connor Adams drilled a ball over the Cowboys right fielder and came all the way around to score in the first. The Longhorns went on to score twice more in the frame.
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Gunnison (9-9, 4-2 conference) had an answer. It strung together six hits off Aitken in the bottom of the inning, leading to seven runs.
The “Comeback Kids” were hardly flustered, however. Aitken found her stride, striking out seven Cowboys and allowing one run or fewer in five of the next six innings, and so did the Basalt offense. The Longhorns scored eight times in the fifth to pull ahead, 13-11. After Gunnison pulled to within one in the sixth, Basalt added some insurance with three in the top of the seventh.
Jessie Anderson led the way with three hits and four RBIs. Aitken also had three hits, and Kenzie Kuhn and Abby King each drove in three. The Longhorns piled up 13 hits in Game 1.
“I think the girls now realize they don’t have to rely on one player or another,” Matherly said. “Now they know that anyone is capable of being hot on a given day.” King and Kuhn combined for four hits, two RBIs and four runs in helping Basalt orchestrate another comeback in Game 2. The Longhorns (14-4, 6-0) battled back from four down after four innings with three runs in the fifth and two in the sixth. Aitken held the Cowboys scoreless in the final three innings.
“The girls stayed together. They were poised and stayed steady,” Longhorns assistant coach Peter King said. “They gradually came back. Nobody thought they had to get it all back in one trip to the plate. “It was wild.”
Basalt, which is scoring an average of 11 runs per game, has lost just once since Sept. 5. It now sets its sights on District play. Seedings are slated to be released next weekend.