Softball: Longhorns ousted in playoff opener | AspenTimes.com

Softball: Longhorns ousted in playoff opener

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

AURORA, Colo. – The Basalt bats finally showed signs of life in the fifth inning of Friday’s 3A playoff opener in Aurora. Unfortunately, it came too late to extend the Longhorns’ season.

No. 12 seed Basalt plated three runs in its final at-bat, trimming No. 5 Platte Valley’s lead to seven. The high-powered Broncos answered right back, however, connecting on two home runs in the bottom of the fifth; the second, a walk-off solo blast from the No. 9 hitter, sealed Platte Valley’s 13-3, mercy-rule shortened win.

The 3A Western Slope-champion Longhorns (14-6) have been outscored, 47-3, in their three consecutive trips to the state tournament.

“If we would’ve gotten the bats going a little sooner, it would’ve made a big difference in the game,” said Basalt head coach Bruce Matherly.

Added assistant coach Peter King: “The girls didn’t seem at all like they were intimidated or overpowered. They just didn’t hit the ball real hard or in good spots.”

The Broncos, champions of a 3A Patriot League that sent five teams to state, did not have that problem. They roughed up Longhorns starter Katie King, compiling 11 hits – including three home runs.

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Platte Valley hit a two-run shot in its three-run second, then erupted for six runs in the fourth to take a commanding 10-0 lead.

“A couple of girls would get on, and then they would hit one out,” Matherly said. “We struggled a little bit hitting our spots with the pitching, but to their credit they hit the ball pretty well. They had a lot of dead-pull hitters who had a lot of pop.”

The Basalt offense, a unit that scored 189 runs and hit .396 in 19 regular-season games, finally broke through in the fifth inning. Shelley Briscoe reached on an error and came around to score on another Broncos miscue that allowed Connor Adams to reach base. King then drove in a run with a triple – the Longhorns’ first of two hits in the game – and scored on Jamie Matherly’s sharply hit grounder to shortstop.

Kenzie Kuhn followed with a single but was stranded.

“I was real proud of the girls. [The Broncos] wouldn’t have come to bat if we hadn’t rallied in the top of the fifth to at least extend the game,” Peter King said. “We showed some character getting those three runs. That’s a real positive.”

The momentum did not last long. Balanced Platte Valley dealt the decisive blows in the bottom of the fifth, halting the Longhorns’ 10-game win streak and their season.

The Western Slope’s other state participant, 16th-seeded Rifle, was blanked, 20-0, by top-seeded Berthoud in other action Friday.

Higher-seeded teams were 8-0 in the first round.

“We made the routine plays and weren’t out of the game defensively other than their ability to hit the ball,” coach King said. “We’ve got to improve our overall game and a bring the bats a little bit better next time.”

Added Bruce Matherly: “I think this is a step in the right direction, but we’re not looking for moral victories. We want to come down here and win.

“The girls saw that they could score down here. … We’re already looking forward to next year.”

jmaletz@aspentimes.com