Basalt softball pounds rival Aspen, 15-1 | AspenTimes.com

Basalt softball pounds rival Aspen, 15-1

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

BASALT – The flu was not the only thing that made the Aspen softball team sick Thursday in Basalt.

The balanced Longhorns erupted for five runs in the first inning, and eight more in the third. On the strength of another solid outing from starter Alexa Aitken, they cruised to a 15-1, mercy-rule shortened win to complete the regular-season series sweep of their upvalley rivals.

Basalt (10-3) outscored the Skiers, 28-1, this season.

“They have a great team,” Skiers head coach Jeremy Haack said. “I thought it would be a closer game [than Sept. 17], but with everybody sick, we knew it would be tough. … They play good softball.”

Shorthanded Aspen, which was without five players because of illness, capitalized on a fielding miscue in the top of the first inning to take an early lead. With runners at first and second, Sierra McKinney broke for third on a ground ball to the right side. Instead of stepping on the bag, Basalt first baseman Lane Calabro turned and fired to third and overshot her target, allowing McKinney to score.

The Longhorns answered quickly. Katie King drew a walk to lead off the bottom of the first – one of Skiers starter Liz Baty’s four free passes in the inning – and came around to score on Aitken’s double. Kira Selucky later drove in one with an RBI groundout. Two runs scored on passed balls, and Calabro came around to score on an overthrow at third base.

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“We wanted two wins [against Aspen] this season,” Basalt shortstop Jamie Matherly said. “We knew they would be ready, so we knew we had to come out strong also.”

Matherly hit an RBI groundout and King scored on a passed ball in a second inning in which the Longhorns stretched their lead to five. They all but put the game away one inning later, when they sent 11 to the plate and scored eight times.

King, Kenzie Kuhn, Connor Adams and Calabro hit RBI singles and Selucky added a run-scoring double in the third. Two other runs scored on passed balls, and King scored on one of the Skiers’ three errors.

Calabro and Aitken combined for five hits and scored five runs for Basalt, which has won 10 of its last 11 games.

“The neat thing is … we have kids up and down the lineup that hit the ball,” Basalt head coach Bruce Matherly said. “That keeps rallies going.”

Aitken needed few insurance runs on this day. She worked into and out of trouble in the first, then again in a second in which she walked two and struck out two.

Aspen shortstop Nicole Twohig reached on an infield error to open the third, then Claire Kornasiewicz drew a walk. After striking out Connor Boyd, Aitken received some help from Kuhn, who chased down a passed ball that ricocheted off the backstop, then tagged out Twohig at the plate.

Aitken was dominant from there, retiring the last seven batters she faced. She finished with seven strikeouts, three coming in a 1-2-3 fourth.

The Longhorns, unbeaten thus far in conference play, host a doubleheader against Rifle at 11 a.m. Saturday. They will host Cedaredge at 4 p.m. Tuesday, then visit Gunnison on Oct. 10 for a doubleheader that will likely decide the league title. Last fall, Basalt swept its doubleheader with the Cowboys on the season’s final weekend to clinch the program’s first conference crown.

“The hardest thing is keeping focus,” coach Matherly said. “We’ve got to keep this [momentum] going.”

jmaletz@aspentimes.com

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