Clutch hit clinches win for Longhorns | AspenTimes.com

Clutch hit clinches win for Longhorns

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Jon Maletz/The Aspen TimesDelta's Tiffany Schaaf spins to avoid a pitch from Longhorns starter Katie King on Thursday at Basalt High School.

BASALT – It did not seem to matter that she was just a few games removed from dislocating a knee cap, or that Basalt third-base coach Bruce Matherly had raised his arms in the air, signaling her to slow down.

There was no hesitation. Connor Adams was not stopping until she reached home plate.

On the heels of two of her teammates, the junior sprinted around the bases after lining a pitch from Delta starter Tiffany Schaaf into the right-field corner in the bottom of the seventh inning Thursday. She sped into home standing up, clinching a dramatic 6-5, come-from-behind win over the 4A Panthers.

“You know, I wanted to win and I felt like I had it,” said Adams, a student and standout runner at Glenwood Springs High School.

“That was crazy.”

The frenzied finish was a departure from the rest of Thursday’s game. With her team leading by a seemingly comfortable 3-0 margin, Basalt starter Katie King took a no-hitter into the seventh.

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Things unraveled quickly for the junior in the final frame, however. Panthers pinch-hitter Kaitlin Davis got things started with a ringing double to the wall in left. LeNaya Hafley then drove in a run with a single up the middle, trimming the Delta deficit to two.

With two outs and the tying run standing at second base, Schaaf stepped to the plate.

“It never fails. With a couple of runners on, their best hitter comes up,” Matherly joked. “We tried to stay low and away from her, and that’s where she went. She stayed back and drove it over the right fielder’s head.

“I think I aged 10 years in about six pitches.”

Schaaf hit a line drive that sailed over the Longhorns’ Rebecca Chouteau, who had taken a step in instead of back upon contact. Schaaf wound up on third base after plating two to square the game. She later scored on a teammate’s single.

Delta tacked on a fifth run in the inning when, with runners at the corners, second baseman Kenzie Kuhn mishandled a throw on an attempted steal.

“We wanted [King] to keep the ball down. … We were looking for ground ball outs,” Matherly said. “They saw her for a third time [and were more comfortable at the plate].”

Basalt (8-5 overall, 3-0 3A Western Slope) had troubles of its own at the plate in the early going. The Longhorns mustered just two hits off Schaaf, one of the Western Slope’s premier hurlers, through six innings.

Lane Calabro provided a rare highlight with an inside-the-park home run in a second inning in which Jessie Anderson also scored on a passed ball. In the fifth, King lined a RBI single up the middle to stretch the lead to three.

The top four hitters in the Basalt lineup combined for just one hit in eight official at-bats.

The bottom of the order helped pick up the slack – and seal a victory.

Chouteau legged out an infield single to open the seventh, then advanced to second when No. 8 hitter Maddie Nieslanik was drilled in the foot by a pitch.

Then, Adams, who struck out and walked in two previous plate appearances, changed everything with one swing.

“I felt like I was due and I had to do something,” Adams said.

“I was hoping it wouldn’t go foul. That was the first thought that went through my head.”

When she saw her liner roll to the wall, Adams said she knew she could make it home. Matherly initially attempted to hold her up at third base, but sent Adams after the Panthers’ second baseman bobbled the relay throw.

Matherly just shook his head and grinned afterward.

“We always have good games with Delta. They’re such a great program,” said the coach, whose squad topped the Panthers, 8-6, earlier this month at the Peach Fuzz Tournament in Grand Junction. “Gosh, this is such a good one to win.”

The Longhorns return to the field Saturday, when they host a doubleheader with Cedaredge at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

jmaletz@aspentimes.com