Basalt softball rides fast start to regional championship win over Lamar

Overcoming a slow start was a regular occurrence for the Basalt High School softball team during the regular season. As easy as they could make it look, turning it on midway through contests, the Longhorns believed they wouldn’t be able to get away with that in the postseason.

Which is why BHS came out with a bit more gusto against Lamar on Saturday in their Class 3A Region 2 championship game in Basalt.

“That was really big,” Basalt’s second-year coach David Miller said of the fast start. “We emphasized that before we started the game that we could not afford to give them runs in the early part of the game like we’ve done in the past and came out and shut them down in the first inning. Got some runs and then we got a couple more runs and just held them until sort of mid-game.”

A three-run first inning proved crucial during a mid-game slump, with the end result being a 10-4 Basalt win on the BHS field that sends the team to next week’s state tournament. It was a better result than the 2016 regional, the last time Basalt hosted, when it lost the regional title but rallied to win the second game to make state.

The Longhorns made sure they only needed to play once on Saturday after losing in their first and only regional game each of the past two seasons.

“That was probably one of the few games where we actually did that,” BHS junior pitcher Maya Lindgren said of getting out to an early lead. “We had the mentality that we needed to go on top and stay on top and that’s just where we were. (Coach Miller) was really persistent. We got to play our game and if we do we are going to win and that’s just what happened today.”

Lamar, the No. 15 seed in regional play, took on No. 18 Peak to Peak in the first game of the day, winning 17-2 to get the chance to face Basalt in the regional final. Seeded No. 2, the Longhorns came in heavy favorites against the Savages, the same school that beat them in the first round of the 2016 state tournament, 15-4.

Basalt followed its three-run first inning with four more runs in the third inning on Saturday to take a 7-0 lead into the top of the fifth inning. That’s where the defense came unglued for a bit, errors leading to three Lamar runs in the frame and another in the top of the sixth inning to cut Basalt’s lead to 7-4.

“I still have faith in my team,” Lindgren said of that stretch. “I know we make errors. I know I do, too. I had a few there. But I knew they were going to pull it together, so I wasn’t really too worried about it. I knew they were going to come through.”

The Longhorns quickly put the lapses behind them by scoring three additional runs in the sixth inning and shutting down the Lamar bats in the seventh for the win. Lindgren pitched all seven innings, allowing only three official hits for Basalt. The BHS defense did commit seven errors.

This will be Basalt’s first trip to state since that 2016 season, when the current seniors were freshmen.

“I’m so excited,” Lindgren said. “I haven’t been to state, so I’m excited for the experience and I’m going to play to win there, too.”

At 22-1 overall and as regional champions, Basalt is likely to hold onto the No. 2 seed when the state tournament is announced. No. 1 seed University had little trouble in its regional, beating No. 16 La Junta, 13-3. In fact, all eight teams that hosted a 3A regional won.

Basalt was only the 12 seed in the 2016 state tournament, while Lamar was the 5 seed. As a likely 2 seed, the Longhorns are in a much better position to make a run at a state championship.

“It feels great. We hung tough and kind of played the way we play,” Miller said. “This was a key goal for our girls this year, to get back to state. But now I have a new goal. And that is not to just get to state, but to go as far as we can go.”