Basalt softball confident heading into regional play despite season struggles
Maybe the Basalt High School softball team didn’t quite live up to its expectations this season, but with regionals getting underway Saturday, everything is there for the taking.
“We’ve had a lot of downs so we weren’t really sure if we were going to make it this far. But we are all really happy and excited that we did,” Basalt senior first baseman Megan Nieslanik said. “We’ve played pretty good these last couple of weeks and just knowing we have made it this far is a really big confidence booster.”
No. 15 seed Basalt (11-8 overall) will play No. 18 seed Fort Lupton (11-8) at 10 a.m. Saturday in their Class 3A Region 2 tournament, hosted by Eaton High School. Eaton (16-3), the No. 2 seed among the 24 regional qualifiers, will play the winner at 12:15 p.m. on Saturday. If needed, a third game is scheduled for 2:30 p.m.
Two of the three regional teams will advance to next week’s state tournament. Meaning, it all comes down to the first game between Basalt and Fort Lupton. If the Longhorns win, they won’t even need to face Eaton in the second game to make state.
“It appears we have some bigger bats than they do. I say that, and they’ll probably put it over the fence,” BHS coach Marianne Gardner-Smith said of Fort Lupton. “If our pitching holds true — Morgan (Ash) has been throwing exceptionally well — if it holds true and a couple of our bats come alive, I think we’ll get them.”
Coming off a 16-6 season in which it hosted regionals and qualified for the state tournament, Basalt had hoped for better than 11-8 this fall. After on 0-2 start, BHS did win eight straight games, but only went 3-6 down the home stretch.
Still, the team remains confident it can hold its own against Fort Lupton on Saturday. It needs only the one win to keep the season going another week.
“It would mean everything to me. I love softball and nothing means more to me and to be with these girls would mean the world,” BHS sophomore utility player Zoe Vozick said of possibly making state again. “There is no doubt in my mind that we can beat both teams at regionals and we can do well at states. We just sort of lost focus at the beginning of the year, but we’ve had a good week at practice and I hope we keep it going.”
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Strange is a word that will likely define the winter high school sports season. But, after numerous delays and endless doubts, that season is finally here. It will include fewer games, more masks and a lot of empty seats, but adapting to that strangeness is better than the alternative.