Added depth has Basalt High softball team feeling good about 2019 season
When the injury bug hit the Basalt High School softball team midway through the 2018 season it was more or less all she wrote. The Longhorns didn’t have the roster depth to recover from those subtractions, leading to eight consecutive losses to finish the fall.
“We had two of our starters, both seniors, both go down — actually against Cedaredge — and we never recovered from that, quite honestly. We were doing great before that,” second-year BHS coach David Miller said Wednesday. “This year we have enough depth that we can play people in different positions. So you don’t own a position. And I don’t say that in a negative way. I think it just gives us more flex as coaches.”
Basalt opened its 2019 season Tuesday with a 12-1 win at Cedaredge, the first step in putting those injuries and losses of 2018 in the past. The Longhorns started last season with seven wins in a row and were ranked in the top 10 of Class 3A before the free fall began. BHS ended the year 9-10 overall (5-6 district play) and lost 13-6 as the No. 15 seed to No. 18 La Junta in the first round of regionals.
Miller believes this year’s team can more resemble the one that opened 7-0 and made some noise across the state rankings.
“We could do very, very well if we continue to use the fundamentals and the gifts that they have,” Miller said. “And if the injury bug doesn’t get us. That is the big thing. I think we have the potential to do really well, but time will tell. I’m very encouraged, quite honestly. I think we can surprise some people.”
Basalt received three votes in the preseason poll through CHSAANow.com, which is voted on by an assortment of coaches and media members from across the state. This essentially ranks them as No. 15 in Class 3A heading into the season, a list topped by preseason No. 1 Strasburg. Delta, Basalt’s district rival, is preseason No. 4.
Cedaredge, who Basalt easily beat in the season opener Tuesday, won at least 13 games each year from 2013 to 2016, then went 8-12 in 2017 and 9-14 in 2018. Based off those results, the Longhorns’ 12-1 win could raise an eyebrow or two.
“It went real well. You never know. We weren’t able to get any scrimmages or anything, so we were kind of like, ‘First time out, let’s see how this works,’” Miller said of Tuesday’s win. “We’ve got a good group of girls this year. I’m real pleased. We have a significant amount of depth, which is nice. We picked up two freshmen pitchers in addition to our other three, so that’s kind of rare.”
Pitching depth could be a strength for the Longhorns. Junior Maya Lindgren pitched all five innings against Cedaredge, allowing only three hits and one earned run with four strikeouts. She was the team’s primary pitcher last season, throwing 61.1 innings, while then-sophomore Grace Schrock pitched 24 innings.
Schrock is back, as is sophomore Bella Meraz, who was the team’s third pitcher last fall. Most of the team’s pitchers this season can play in the infield, giving the coaching staff a lot of options.
“I’d much rather have this problem than trying to fill holes,” Miller said of that depth and flexibility. “It is a good problem to have, but it is a challenge because not everybody will get to play like they want to or think they should. Then it makes it kind of interesting.”
Offensively, senior Zoe Vozick did the most damage against Cedaredge with four runs, four hits and four RBI in four at-bats. She led the team with 24 RBI and a .510 batting average a year ago.
The Longhorns next head to Denver for a two-day tournament hosted by Sheridan High School beginning Friday. Their home opener will be a doubleheader against Montezuma-Cortez on Sept. 7.
“That should be a good series. Because Cortez last year was good and they’ve got a senior pitcher that did a good job for them last year,” Miller said. “We got some good opportunities ahead. We’ll just see if they continue to do what they can do.”
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