Split for Basalt softball at regionals | AspenTimes.com

Split for Basalt softball at regionals

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

BASALT – The Basalt softball team is heading to the state tournament. Still, the Longhorns likely are left wondering what could have been.

Basalt had the tying run in scoring position and one of its top hitters standing in the on-deck circle in the seventh inning of Saturday’s regional championship against Florence. But after a lineout and a controversial call at second base, the hosts came up short, 4-3.

“It’s just really disappointing,” Longhorns head coach Bruce Matherly admitted. “We hung in there and put ourselves in great position to potentially go ahead. It was a sad thing.”

Not all was lost: By virtue of its 10-8 victory over Peak to Peak earlier Saturday, Basalt secured one of the 12 spots in next week’s state tournament.

Against Florence, which dispatched Gunnison in earlier action, the Longhorns were gunning for a regional championship, a guaranteed top-six seed and a first-round bye at state, which begins Friday in Aurora. Things didn’t look promising until the sixth, when Basalt scored two runs to trim its deficit to 4-3.

In the seventh, Carina Capobianco reached base, and then advanced to second with one out. Matherly called for a pinch-hitter, and Kaity Johnson strolled to the plate. The freshman hit a sharp liner that was snagged by the Huskies’ center fielder. Capobianco tagged up and slid safely into third base.

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It looked as though Brittany Driscoll would get a chance to add to an impressive day that included five hits in seven at-bats.

Instead, a curious thing happened.

“Their coach turns to the umpire and says, ‘(Capobianco) left early,'” Matherly said. “They appealed back to second, and they called her out. It was one of those things where it wasn’t even close. … 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 is what it is, but we were really bummed out.”

Such was not the case earlier Saturday. Basalt erupted for 10 runs on 11 hits in its opener against Peak to Peak.

Morgan Young and Hunter Ash hit RBI singles in a three-run second, then the Longhorns tacked on two more in the third courtesy of a passed ball and an infield single from Keelie Roberts that plated Maddie Nieslanik.

The Pumas appeared poised to cut into a three-run deficit in the top of the fourth. With two outs and two on, Klya Hilty drilled a Driscoll offering up the middle that looked like it would reach the outfield grass; instead, second baseman Ash chased down the ball, made a backhanded stab and threw to first to end the threat.

Had Hilty reached, Jo Bolyard would’ve gotten a rare at-bat with runners on. The senior standout, hitting .667 this season, was intentionally walked in the first and picked up two hits in her final three at-bats.

Basalt seized momentum, tacking on three runs in the fourth courtesy of a RBI groundout from Shelley Briscoe and two Peak to Peak errors. Roberts scored on a wild pitch to push the lead to 10-5 after five.

The Longhorns still had to sweat it out in the seventh, when the Pumas scored three and had the tying run standing at first with two outs. Driscoll induced a weak popup to center, however, to secure the victory.

Despite mustering just four hits – two each from Driscoll and Nieslanik – Basalt appeared primed to complete a comeback against Florence.

Instead, the Longhorns will have to settle for a split and much tougher road in Aurora.

“We told the girls we were proud of them. They were right there,” Matherly said. “Oftentimes we play to the level of our competition. We were OK against Peak to Peak, and we played well against Florence. We’re definitely going to have to do that again next week.”

jmaletz@aspentimes.com

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