Softball: Basalt’s bid for 4th league title falls short | AspenTimes.com

Softball: Basalt’s bid for 4th league title falls short

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

GUNNISON, Colo. – The Basalt softball team entered Saturday’s doubleheader in Gunnison riding a 12-game win streak and gunning for a fourth-consecutive Western Slope title.

The Longhorns left with more questions than answers after dropping both contests by a combined score of 28-7.

“I think the girls were a little unsettled and never really got anything going,” Basalt assistant Peter King admitted Tuesday.

There was reason to be uneasy. Center fielder Shelley Briscoe was injured on a school trip and was unable to play, so the roster had to be altered. Senior pitcher Katie King started the game in center and Gavin LaCroix took the mound in Game 1.

Three innings later, LaCroix sustained an injury to an already tender ankle on a come-backer, forcing the Longhorns to shift players around once more.

“We’ve had a roster that is pretty much paper thin all season,” Basalt head coach Bruce Matherly said. “If anybody gets hurt, it really changes how we do things.”

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The Longhorns (13-5) appeared to be out of sorts from the outset. They committed seven errors in Game 1 – a 16-6 loss – and nine in Game 2, when they could muster just one run in a 12-1 defeat. Both games were called after five innings because of the mercy rule.

The Cowboys pounded out 12 hits in each game en route to securing the league crown.

“The Gunnison girls hit the ball well … and we had girls playing positions they weren’t used to,” Peter King said. “We got a little bit sloppy.”

Added Matherly: “We’ve got to get the bats going.”

While the offense did not revert to form in Monday’s season finale against Rifle, Basalt managed to squeak out a victory. The Longhorns committed just two errors, Katie King surrendered four hits and Basalt erased a late deficit to clinch a second-place league finish.

Keelie Roberts led the way with two of the Longhorns’ five hits. King produced a double in the fourth, driving in two to erase a 3-2 deficit.

She was just as clutch on the mound, holding the Bears scoreless in the final four innings to preserve a 5-3 win.

Basalt and Rifle will square off again in Saturday’s four-team district tournament in Gunnison. There, the Longhorns and Bears will vie for the Slope’s second and final state tournament spot.

Expect the game to be tight; in the two’s first regular-season meeting, the Longhorns prevailed, 17-15, in a nine-inning thriller.

jmaletz@aspentimes.com