Basalt to host softball regional Saturday
The Aspen Times
Let the games begin.
The Basalt High School softball team is ready and waiting — waiting to host the Class 3A Region 5 Championships on Saturday.
The Longhorns, who include players from Glenwood Springs, Roaring Fork and Basalt high schools, will host the four-team regional again this year with a chance to move on to the Class 3A State Championships.
All part of the plan, according to Basalt head coach Colin Young.
“We knew … for a couple weeks we would be hosting (regionals),” Young said. “But this is not close to one of their (Longhorns) top goals. Their goal is to get to the final four at state.”
The journey will begin at 12:15 p.m. Saturday at Basalt High School when the league-champion Longhorns (14-4) will play Faith Christian (6-12).
The earlier game in the four-team regional will feature No. 5 overall seed Valley (12-7) against No. 20 Gunnison (8-11). They will play at 10 a.m. Saturday in Basalt.
The two winners will play for the regional title at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Basalt, while earning a host designation as league champion, was seeded No. 8 overall, opening against No. 17 Faith Christian.
Though disappointed with the No. 8 seeding and the mix of teams coming to Basalt for the regional, Young said the Longhorns are ready for the rematch against Faith Christian.
Basalt beat Faith Christian, 13-9, earlier this season in Arvada — a wild game that featured errors galore.
“We had 11 errors in that game and still won,” Young said. “We’re pretty confident we can take care of business (against Faith).”
He said the first matchup Saturday could be an interesting game.
“Gunnison is very, very scrappy,” Young said. “They are very well-coached.”
Plus, he said, the weather forecast is calling for cold, damp weather.
“It will be cold, which plays to Gunnison’s advantage. And Gunnison can hit the ball,” Young said. “Defensively, they are pretty solid, too.”
Valley, Gunnison’s first-round opponent, comes out of a strong conference that features the No. 1-ranked and No. 2-ranked teams in Class 3A softball.
Strasburg, the No. 1 seed overall, is 19-0.
Sterling (15-4) is the overall No. 2 seed.
They will host regional tournament this weekend, as well.
Of Valley’s losses this year, two came against Strasburg (4-0, 2-0) and two came against Sterling (2-0, 3-1).
Young said a key for the Longhorns will be adjusting to different pitching speeds and styles.
They will open against a Faith Christian control pitcher they’ve seen before.
Waiting with Valley, Young said, “is a flamethrower.”
Valley pitcher Trinity Harrington is one of the hardest throwers in 3A, Young said. She’s among the state leaders in strikeouts.
“But we’ve had this situation before,” Young said, citing a doubleheader earlier this season when the Longhorns faced a slow thrower from St. Mary’s before taking on a hard thrower from Thomas Jefferson (a 4A school with a 17-1 record).
Basalt lost to Thomas Jefferson, but Young said the Longhorns were starting to make the adjustment to the faster pitches when they ran out of innings.
“We’ve worked on that in practice this week, too,” Young said. “We’re going to ride our hot bats. We’ve had hot bats the last couple of weeks … we hope to ride those hot bats.”
The Longhorns roster includes four Glenwood Springs players — Jordan Decrow, Brittany Driscoll, Cassidy Young and Morgan Young.
Glenwood Springs, like Roaring Fork, doesn’t field a softball team, so those players can play at Basalt.
A number of Roaring Fork players also helped the Longhorns this year.
The full Longhorns roster:
Carly Shimp, Brittany Driscoll, Morgan Young, Kalissa Stump, Gavin LaCroix, Bree Kaler.
Cassidy Young, Kaity Johnson, Bailey Strobel, Jordan Decrow, Keelie Roberts, Maddie Nieslanik, Jamie Briscoe, Hunter Ash, Madie Bailey, Britin Strobel and Jayla Ellis.
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This past season brought with it Hailey Swirbul’s greatest individual result as a professional cross-country ski racer. But any real satisfaction she received always came when racing alongside her teammates, notably during world champs.