Basalt’s six-run sixth sinks Skiers | AspenTimes.com

Basalt’s six-run sixth sinks Skiers

Jon Maletz

Jordan Curet/The Aspen Times

Following two lopsided losses Saturday at Norwood, Basalt softball coach Bruce Matherly worried that his team had yet to find its stride.Tuesday’s game with rival Aspen should lift his spirits. The Longhorns (4-7-1 overall, 1-2 3A Western Slope) broke open a tight game with six runs on four hits – one on a home run by Jennifer Barton – in the sixth inning.With strong pitching from senior Lisa Warnecke and flawless defense, Basalt bested the Skiers, 10-2.”Once we timed their pitcher, we really started to swing the bats well,” Matherly said. “It’ll be great if we can get on a roll.”

While it scored four runs during five innings off Aspen starter Taylor Schlepp, the senior right-hander held the Basalt offense in check. Schlepp struck out seven during that span. The run she allowed in the fifth was scored on a passed ball.Things changed in the sixth, during the Longhorns’ third and fourth turns through the batting order. Freshman Abby King led off with a sharp double to center and advanced to third on a throwing error. Ninth-place hitter Maggie Summers followed with an RBI single up the middle. Freshman Alexa Aitken then lined an RBI double to left and came around to score one batter later on an errant throw. Warnecke reached on a fielder’s choice and later scored on a passed ball.Cassie Meyer drew a walk in front of Barton. Barton, who singled in her previous at-bat in the fifth, lined the Schlepp offering to center. The ball narrowly missed the glove of a charging Sarah Nininger and continued to roll. As Nininger chased after the ball, Barton trotted home with the inning’s sixth run. “When we fell behind, I think [Schlepp] started thinking too much. She started trying to place the ball instead of just throwing,” Aspen coach Ed Zane said. “The difference between us and them is that they had the key hits and made all the plays. We didn’t.”The Skiers, who dropped two one-run games to Cedaredge on Saturday, jumped out to an early lead with some adept base running in the top of the first. Grace Seigle singled with one out, reached second on a passed ball, then stole third and home. She drifted down the third-base line, then took advantage of a lazy throw to the mound from Basalt catcher Katy Mulcahy. Senior Reghan Mahaffey reached after being hit by a pitch, then stole three consecutive bases. She caught Basalt’s battery off guard for a second time, and slid safely into home.

“They surprised us,” Matherly said. “We need to be awake on those plays.”Warnecke would not be caught off guard again. She retired the side in the second and sixth, and faced four or fewer batters in five of her seven innings of work. She struck out nine and walked just one.”I tried to stay calm and focused,” Warnecke said. “I didn’t dwell on hitting that batter.”The Basalt defense was strong behind Warnecke, committing no errors. Aitken gloved a fly ball behind third, then cleanly fielded a sharp ground ball on the following play and threw a strike to Meyer to beat the runner in the fifth. Mulcahy caught Taylor Buzbee stealing to end the top of the sixth.

The Longhorns scored a run in four of the first five innings to erase a short-lived deficit. Freshman Monique Rodriguez lined a one-out single to right field and, after stealing second and third, she came around to score on the first of Aspen’s six errors. Junior Hailey Guglielmo singled to right in the second inning and advanced all the way to third when the ball went through the legs of right fielder Chelsea Hanle. King grounded the ball to the right side of the infield to drive in the run and tie the game.Another Aspen miscue yielded a Basalt run in the fourth. Mulcahy grounded to Schlepp and took second when Schlepp’s throw could not be handled by Skiers first baseman Buzbee. King singled on a soft fly ball behind first to advance Mulcahy to third. Mulcahy scored one batter later on Summers’ sacrifice bunt.Meyer was hit by a pitch in the fifth and later scored on a passed ball. Six of nine starters recorded hits for the Longhorns.Seigle was 3-for-3, and Buzbee had two singles for the Skiers.Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is jmaletz@aspentimes.com