Basalt softball’s seniors depart on high note
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
BASALT – Together, Alexa Aitken and Abby King have experienced the lean times. Together, they helped turn a fledgling program into a league power.
The seniors, four-year starters and team captains who were instrumental in leading the Basalt softball team to consecutive 3A Western Slope titles and playoff appearances the last two seasons, are moving on. They are taking some impressive accomplishments with them.
Aitken and King were recently selected to participate in the Colorado Coaches of Girls’ Sports (CCGS) All-State Softball Game, which is slated to take place Sunday in Westminster. Players were nominated by coaches in their respective leagues and ultimately chosen by a state-wide committee based on talent, dedication, team play and leadership.
The duo was also named to the Western Slope All-Star Team (a total of 24 players from 3A, 4A and 5A will take part in a game in Grand Junction in May), and were two of six Longhorns to garner all-conference recognition.
For Basalt head coach Bruce Matherly, who has coached the two girls for nearly a decade (he still has a picture of them as 10-year-olds, donning secondhand gray softball pants and white T-shirts, tacked to an office bulletin board), the recognition was well deserved.
“I’m really proud of the girls and the season they had,” Matherly said Thursday. “I think the thing that really sets these guys apart is that they know they get out of it what they put in. … They really put in the work and earned their accomplishments.”
Aitken, a first-team All-State selection in 2008, led all of 3A with 21 stolen bases this fall. In addition, she led the team with a .519 average and drove in 16 runs. On the mound, the three-time first-team all-conference selection picked up 13 of the Longhorns’ school-record 14 wins and compiled an ERA of 3.81.
King, one of the Slope’s most sure-handed second basemen, finished with a .510 average and 15 RBIs.
“Those will be big spots to fill in terms of what they brought to the team as players, but also what they brought to the team as people,” he added. “I wish I could hang on to them for another year, but I haven’t figured out a way to make that work.”
Joining Aitken and King on the Slope’s first team were fellow captains Jamie Matherly and Kenzie Kuhn plus first baseman Jessie Anderson. Third baseman Lane Calabro was an honorable mention.
A year after leading all of 3A with a .689 average, Jamie Matherly’s statistics were modest, at least by her standards. The junior shortstop, a first-team All-State selection last fall, hit .348, drove in 18 and stole 11 bases.
“I think she understands she had a charmed season last year. … In hindsight, she was a little frustrated with her numbers and maybe it caused her to press a little,” Bruce Matherly said. “If I’m not mistaken, she led the team in extra-base hits per at-bat and has really developed a reputation as a good hitter.”
Kuhn has gained notoriety for her skills behind the plate, where her solid play and strong arm single-handedly shut down opposing running games. She committed just three errors in 19 games.
The junior was just as dangerous on offense in 2009. She settled into the cleanup spot in a lineup that hit a combined .395 and finished with a .353 batting average and a team-high 20 RBIs.
“She has a great attitude and is someone you can always count on. She’s real steady,” Matherly said. “Not much gets past her. She makes every play.”
Anderson garnered postseason recognition for the fist time after a season in which she hit .383. The junior was one of six Longhorns to drive in 15 or more runs.
“She’s probably the best first baseman in the league,” Matherly said. “She’s got a lot of power – we see it in practice all the time. I’d bet that next year is the year we see it pretty routinely in games.”
Matherly expects the same to be true of Calabro, who he referred to as “our second cleanup hitter.” The junior, an honorable mention last season who made the switch from first to third base on defense to make room for Anderson, a lefty, hit .471 and drove in 15. Her .534 on-base percentage was third on the team, trailing only Aitken (.627) and King (.583).
While losing his two seniors will be difficult, Matherly said it is clear his program has the talent in place to build on a banner season.
“They have set some pretty high standards for us … and helped set the bar high for future teams,” the coach added. “It’ll be tough [to replace them], but they’re leaving the program in good hands.”
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Perhaps, Radamus’ brief moment on top was a preview of coming attractions. He hopes so. Radamus certainly got the season off to a great start by finishing 27th in the opener.