Basalt softball comes up short in state opener
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
AURORA – The Longhorns made the decision to pitch around Platte Canyon cleanup hitter Jessie Marshall in Friday’s 3A state softball tournament opener in Aurora.
Marshall, who drove in 42 runs during the regular season, did little damage, walking twice and grounding out. The same could not be said of the rest of Huskies lineup. Eighth-seeded Platte Canyon tagged Basalt starter Alexa Aitken for three two-run home runs and scored in every inning en route to an 11-0, mercy-rule shortened win over the No. 9 Longhorns.
“Their stats were for real,” Basalt head coach Bruce Matherly said of the Huskies, who hit .379 as a team during the regular season. “They had three or four girls who could flat out pound the ball.”
Marshall’s sister, Jenny, put Platte Canyon ahead, 2-0, after a first-inning blast, then Kelsey Voskamp cleared the fence in the third to stretch the lead to five. Lead-off hitter Courtney Kinnett’s two-run blast capped off a five-run fifth inning that ended the game prematurely. The Huskies (13-8) strung together three straight singles to open the final frame, then the fourth hitter reached on a run-scoring error.
The Longhorns (14-5) committed three fielding miscues in the game.
“[Three errors] is not bad, but at this level they become glaring,” Matherly said. “I really didn’t feel like we were overmatched today. The girls weren’t intimidated by the pitching at all, but we couldn’t get it going like we typically can on the Western Slope.”
Basalt had its chances. Connor Adams led off the game with a sharply hit liner that was snared by the right fielder. Aitken followed with a single and advanced to third on an error. Shortstop Jamie Matherly then laid down what appeared to be a perfect bunt on an attempted squeeze, but she was called out after the home-plate umpire ruled the ball grazed her outside the batter’s box.
Aitken was stranded after catcher Kenzie Kuhn’s groundout.
“That was the start of a great inning,” Matherly said. “We just couldn’t pull through.”
Abby King led off the second with a single but was left on base. One inning later, Katie King reached on a bunt single and was gunned down on a delayed steal attempt.
The Longhorns looked to trim what was then a six-run deficit in the top of the fifth when Jessie Anderson and Lane Calabro reached on an error and a fielder’s choice. Adams made solid contact once more, drilling what looked like a sure extra-base hit down the right foul line. The Platte Canyon first baseman reached out and snared the liner, however, to end the threat.
“Connor hit the ball as hard as you can hit it, and the first baseman made an awesome play,” Basalt assistant coach Peter King said. “That would’ve brought in two runs for sure. … That’s tough.”
A Longhorns offense that combined to hit more than .400 during the regular season was largely held in check Friday. Basalt could muster just four hits – two from Katie King – against Huskies starter Jessie Marshall, who struck out four and walked none in five innings.
“She had real good control and a good off-speed pitch,” Peter King said. “We got the bat on the ball … but they played good defense and we didn’t really get a lot of power on the ball.”
As a result, the Western Slope champions’ postseason run ended abruptly for a second consecutive season. Last fall, the then No. 9 Longhorns were routed by Faith Christian, 23-0.
“I definitely feel like we’ve taken a step from last year. … We know we need to work that much harder to take that next step,” Matherly said. “We’re not satisfied. We don’t want to come down here and make an appearance. We want to push the envelope.
“Had those hard-hit balls fallen, we would’ve given them a heck of a game all the way down the line. … Not a girl on this team feels like we didn’t belong.”
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