Basalt softball horns in on postseason awards
After two innings of play Sept. 24, Basalt had a comfortable lead against first-place Gunnison, a team the Longhorns had never beaten in their three years as a varsity softball program. It looked as though Basalt would play cautious the rest of the way to make sure the game was well in hand for the final five. Darbi Scherer felt otherwise. On a close play at the plate, the senior sprinted down the third base line, sliding headfirst into the plate. It was a play that would set the tone for the game and the season, Basalt coach Bruce Matherly said Sunday.”Darbi is tough and is one of the most inspirational kids I’ve coached,” Matherly said. “She gives everything she has.”Scherer and teammates Allison Brumet and Katy Mulcahy earned spots on the Western Slope’s all-conference first team. Shortstop Jennifer Barton and center fielder Heather Conder received honorable mention.Scherer showcased her talent and drive on both sides of the ball for the Longhorns in 2005. The senior was the staff ace, going 4-2 and compiling 55 strikeouts. Batting in the three-hole, Scherer hit .404 and amassed a .508 on-base percentage. The senior led the team – which had a collective batting average over .300 – in hits. She was instrumental on the basepaths as well, contributing to the team’s 87 stolen bases.
Fellow senior Allison Brumet anchored Basalt in left field. She had the fewest errors on defense, committing just one miscue the entire season. On offense, Brumet batted .396 with a .491 on-base percentage and stole 11 bases. “We didn’t have to rely on one player or two,” Matherly said. “We were solid one through nine, and we never knew who was gonna get hot.”Mulcahy, hitting out of the ninth spot for much of the season, batted .345 and amassed a .424 on-base percentage. She stole 12 bases.Mulcahy’s greatest contributions, however, came behind the plate. As the team’s catcher, Mulcahy helped both Scherer and No. 2 starter Lisa Warnecke. Mulcahy was instrumental in shutting down opposing running games, Matherly said. She caught 12 runners stealing on the season.Despite leading the Longhorns in average (.529) and on-base percentage (.750), Barton was often relegated to the sixth spot in the lineup – a testament to the Longhorns’ offensive potency. The junior stole 10 bases.
“We’ll definitely be glad to have Jen back [next year],” Matherly said.Conder, the team’s leadoff hitter and center fielder, set the tone for the offense, often frustrating opponents right from the first pitch. The senior hit .313 and reached base 50 percent of the time. When she did make it to first, Conder wasn’t there long. She led Basalt with 18 stolen bases. With runners in scoring position, Matherly said he did not hesitate to give Conder the squeeze sign. Conder’s ability to get the ball down was automatic.”It’s easy to see how nicely and well-balanced this team was,” Matherly said. “We had a good showing this year and beat everybody in the league.”A balanced offense and opportunistic defense helped Basalt build a 6-3 conference mark, which included a two-game split with top-ranked Gunnison and two out of three against Cedaredge, which tied Basalt for second place in the Slope.
Two of Basalt’s conference losses came in one-run games. It let a big lead slip away in an eight-inning loss to Cedaredge and squandered a four-run lead in Aspen. Despite being shut out by Holy Family in the first round of the playoffs, the future looks positive for Basalt.With Mulcahy and Barton returning, the Longhorns have two proven, productive leaders. Warnecke shared the pitching with Scherer all-year long, which should make for a simple transition into the No. 1 role. Both received additional instruction from an outside pitching coach to improve their mechanics, Matherly said.The biggest challenge will be replacing the seniors, Matherly said. While all-conference voting consists of coaches nominating their players based primarily on statistics, it was the character of seniors Scherer, Brumet, Conder – as well as first baseman Jacklyn Everett, second baseman Laura Wille and third baseman Lauren Rinker – that left the largest impression.”Losing the seniors is gonna make it tough,” Matherly said. “They set the culture for the team, and the other players rose to that level. All will be missed, and all will be tough positions to fill.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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