Basalt softball unites lower valley schools

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times

The Basalt High School softball team will jump back into an early season filled with big-school competition today.

The Class 3A Longhorns, a composite team of players from Basalt, Roaring Fork and Glenwood Springs high schools, will host Class 4A Durango at 10 a.m. today at the Basalt High School field.

“We’re the only softball team in the (lower) valley,” head coach Bruce Matherly said. “It’s a really special thing to see these girls who are rivals in basketball become teammates in softball.

“This should be one of the strongest teams we’ve had,” said Matherly, who established the BHS softball program in 2006. The Longhorns have made an annual path into the state playoffs, including last year when they knocked off the No. 1-ranked 3A team before falling to the No. 2-rated Holy Family.

“This is the most competitive schedule we’ve had,” Matherly said of the 1-1 Longhorns, who split a doubleheader last weekend against Green Mountain, another big school.

In the season opener, the Longhorns scored in the sixth inning to tie the game 6-6 against Green Mountain.

Green Mountain rallied with six late runs for a 13-6 win.

“It was a very close game. They managed to string together hits (in the big inning),” Matherly said.

The Longhorns bounced back to win the second game, 6-5.

The Basalt composite softball team is led by five seniors this season.

Pitcher Morgan Young also plays first base. She’s one of four pitchers on the Basalt staff.

Brittany Driscoll, who crushed a “monster home run” to left field against Green Mountain, is another pitcher for the Longhorns. She’s the returning Western Slope League player of the year.

She also can play catcher, third base and center field — her showcase position, Matherly said.

Maddie Nieslanik, a senior, will return as the catcher. An outstanding all-around athlete at Roaring Fork High School, Nieslanik is a defensive leader for the team, Matherly aid.

“She can also play third base and shortstop,” Matherly said. “But her primary position is catcher.”

Jordan DeCrow, a junior from Glenwood Springs, will play shortstop.

“She really hits well,” DeCrow said.

Bailey Strobel, a junior, also will play first base. Cassidy Young, a freshman, will see some duty at second base this year, the head coach said.

Hunter Ash, a senior and the fastest player on the squad, will boost the lineup along with Keelie Roberts, a junior at third base.

Kaity Johnson, Madie Bailey, Gavin Lacroix and Britin Strobel will handle the outfield.

“Britin Stobel made a terrific catch in the Green Mountain game,” Matherly said.

The BHS softball program numbers 25 players with a full junior varsity team.