No place like home for Basalt softball | AspenTimes.com

No place like home for Basalt softball

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

Jon Maletz/The Aspen TimesHunter Ash (24) and the high-powered Basalt offense have scored 213 runs in 19 games this season.

BASALT – In years past, the Basalt softball team has opened postseason play in distant locales such as Gunnison, Limon and Burlington.

“It’s almost like going to Kansas,” head coach Bruce Matherly joked Tuesday afternoon.

Saturday, there will be no place like home. Fresh off a regular season in which they won 13 of 19 games and secured a fourth 3A District 5 crown in the past five years, the Longhorns will host a four-team regional. The top two finishers will advance to the state tournament.

Seventh-seeded Basalt will kick things off at 10 a.m. against No. 18 Peak to Peak (9-9). No. 6 Florence (12-7) and No. 19 Gunnison (9-10) will follow at 12:15 p.m. A regional championship game is slated for 2:30 p.m.

Regional winners are guaranteed one of the top six seeds in the 12-team state tournament Oct. 19 and 20 in Aurora.

“Getting to play here at home is going to be a great experience for us and the girls,” said Matherly, whose squad is 8-0 at Basalt High School this fall. “We think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”

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The young Longhorns, with just two seniors on the roster, have been rolling of late. They closed out the regular season with five straight wins, including a doubleheader sweep of Gunnison in the de facto league championship.

They were inconsistent in Thursday’s finale against 4A Rifle but escaped with a 10-9 victory in 10 innings.

“I thought some (of the issues against Rifle) were an anomaly,” Matherly said. “The biggest challenge for the coaches is to get players back to the level of play we were at when we played Green Mountain, or that second game against Gunnison. Those were the times when we were hitting on all cylinders.

“At this stage, everybody is good. We’re going to have to play really well to come out on top.”

First up is a matchup with battle-tested Peak to Peak. The Pumas have played eight teams in the 3A regional field, compiling a record of 2-7.

Basalt has played just one (Gunnison).

“It’s always a concern when you look at the level of competition they’ve played,” Matherly said. “I think that gets them really well prepared for postseason play.”

Peak to Peak boasts an impressive .492 team on-base percentage. Leading the way is senior Jo Bolyard, who is hitting .667 with two home runs and 38 RBIs.

“She looks like a one-player wrecking crew,” Matherly joked.

Two other Pumas – Teale Anderson and Rachel Reeser – are hitting above .400.

The Longhorns counter with a balanced offensive attack that has scored 213 runs. In addition to her 17 RBIs, Junior Brittany Driscoll is hitting .407. Jordan DeCrow and Maddie Nieslanik each has driven in 20 or more runs and is hitting above .350.

Morgan Young leads the team with a .411 mark. The junior also excels on the mound and is expected to start Game 1.

“At this point, Morgan is going to start, and we’ll have Brittany in the weeds to close if we need her,” Matherly said. “We’re going to stick with what we’ve been doing, what’s gotten us here. We try to approach everything the same way. This is just another game to get through, and you have to believe in what you do and not change it.”

Should Basalt prevail, it likely will face Florence and pitcher Morgan Thompson, who boasts a 10-5 record, a 2.28 ERA and is holding opposing hitters to a .235 average.

Like the Longhorns, the Huskies have beaten Gunnison twice and The Classical Academy once this season.

“I think it’s a pretty fair regional compared to ones we’ve seen in years past,” said Matherly, whose team is slated to scrimmage 4A Palisade today. “When you’re playing your best, all it entails is not doing anything spectacular but doing the routine routinely. We need to get back to that – making all the routine plays, hitting the ball hard and making the hitters put the ball in play or sit down. I’m looking forward to it.”

jmaletz@aspentimes.com