Difficult road ahead for Basalt softball | AspenTimes.com

Difficult road ahead for Basalt softball

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

BASALT – A tough call, and now, a tough draw.

Such is the situation facing the Basalt softball team days after a controversial ruling effectively cost the Longhorns a shot at a regional title. Saturday’s dramatic – and admittedly frustrating – one-run loss to Florence caused Basalt’s stock to plunge during seeding for this week’s 3A state tournament, which kicks off Friday at the Aurora Sports Complex.

Instead of bemoaning the situation, head coach Bruce Matherly insisted Wednesday that his squad is embracing its opportunity. The Longhorns, seeded 10th out of 12, take on No. 7 Burlington at 12:15 p.m. Friday.

“I think this is always fun, and you can’t help but look forward to the challenge,” Matherly said. “(Saturday’s call) made a difference, obviously, but the important thing from this point on is that everybody is playing their best softball. We have to as well if we’re going to be able to compete.”

Basalt had the tying run in scoring position and one of its top hitters standing in the on-deck circle in the seventh inning Saturday. Kaity Johnson then lined out to center field, and Carina Capobianco tagged up at second base before bolting for third. The Huskies’ coach contended that Capobianco left early, a notion upheld on appeal.

Brittany Driscoll, who had five hits in seven at-bats in two games Saturday, never got the chance to hit.

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“It was one of those things where it wasn’t even close,” Matherly said. “I was lined up at third looking at second and the ball, and Carina went back to tag as soon as the ball was caught.

“It’s disappointing, but it’s part of the game. Calls are part of the game. Sometimes they go your way and sometimes they don’t. … It’s all about how we deal with it now.”

He knew it was costly at the time, but Matherly couldn’t quantify just how much until state-tournament brackets were released.

Florence (14-7) nabbed the fifth seed and will square off with No. 12 Eaton (11-10) in Round 1. Basalt (14-7), meanwhile, faces a stiff test against a Burlington team that was 19-1 overall and 10-0 in District 4 play during the regular season.

The Cougars are scoring more than 14 runs per game while allowing less than two. They boast an offense with a combined .450 batting average and .589 on-base percentage. Burlington is led by a pair of productive seniors; Sarah Churchwell is hitting .529 with 35 RBIs and eight home runs, while Allie Satterly’s impressive statistics include a .473 average, .618 OBP, 15 doubles and 25 RBIs.

The duo also has combined to score 77 runs.

The Cougars are equally impressive on the mound, with three starters sporting earned-run averages of 2.33 or lower. Presumptive ace Mikayla Boyce is 10-1 with a 1.42 ERA and is holding opponents to a .225 batting average.

The senior’s resume also includes a win over Rocky Ford, the top seed in this year’s tournament.

“To me, stats are like looking in the rearview mirror. You have to look ahead – you never know what’s going to happen, who’s going to be on and who isn’t,” Matherly said. “As coaches, we study stats to determine how we approach different hitters in the lineup and figure out how we can neutralize offenses a little.

“The bottom line is that we’ve got to show up with our ‘A’ game. The pitching depth is more than we’ve had, and the outfield has been outstanding this year. But it’s really going to boil down to how we hit the ball.”

In their three most recent trips to Aurora, the Longhorns’ offense has been nonexistent. The result: three mercy-rule-shortened losses against Faith Christian (2008), Platte Canyon (2009) and Platte Valley (2010) by a combined tally of 47-3.

The silver lining? Boyce did surrender 10 hits against a Gunnison squad that Basalt outscored 26-6 in Sept. 29’s doubleheader sweep.

“I think we’ll use that as a little confidence when we go face those guys,” Matherly said. “We’ve had some girls who have been to state, so I don’t think they’ll be wide-eyed or overly excited about it. The important thing is that we approach this like every other game. We have to trust what we’ve done.”

jmaletz@aspentimes.com

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