Colbert’s Prep Playbook: BHS softball makes regionals, to face La Junta
The softball regional field was announced Monday, and once again Basalt High School finds itself in the mix. The Longhorns (9-9) will compete in Class 3A Region 2, where they will be the No. 15 seed and face No. 18 La Junta (9-14) on Saturday, if the weather holds. The winner faces No. 2 seed and region host Eaton (18-5) for the regional championship.
According to MaxPreps, Basalt and La Junta last played in 2013, when the No. 9 Longhorns beat the No. 8 Tigers, 15-1, in the first round of the state tournament.
In 3A, there are 24 teams in eight regions competing for the 16 available state tournament spots. Basalt last made state in 2016 as a No. 12 seed, where it lost 15-4 to No. 5 Lamar in the first round.
Last year, Basalt’s season ended with a 14-5 loss to No. 18 Fort Lupton in their first regional game. BHS was the No. 15 seed then, as well, and also happened to be playing its regional in Eaton. Eaton beat Fort Lupton 18-3 for the regional title.
A win over La Junta will get Basalt back to the state tournament. However, they’ve had a tough go of it in recent weeks. The Longhorns started 7-0 and then got to 9-2 before a string of seven straight losses to end the season. The bad part isn’t the losses themselves, but how lopsided most of them were.
While Basalt’s season seems to have fallen by the wayside, it was a legitimate force early in the fall as it climbed up the rankings (BHS peaked at No. 8 in 3A in the Sept. 10 poll). Hopefully the Longhorns remember what they are capable of, as everything is still in front of them for the taking.
As for Aspen softball (1-14 overall), the Skiers finished No. 31 out of 37 teams in the final 3A RPI standings. But, big picture, AHS got its first win since 2009 when it beat Gunnison, 19-18, on Sept. 17, and that’s something to cheer about.
Other rankings of note…
Unbeaten Basalt football held steady at No. 6 in Class 2A this week, while still receiving a lone first-place vote. Rifle (6-0), which hosts unranked Aspen (4-2) on Friday, stayed at No. 3. Delta is No. 10, giving the Western Slope League three in the top 10.
More importantly, the WSL continues to hold strong in RPI, which will determine playoff seeding. Basalt has moved back into the top spot in all of 2A, ahead of No. 2 Bayfield and No. 3 La Junta, which is ranked No. 1 in the other poll, which is voted on by human beings. RPI, or Rating Percentage Index, is purely mathematical.
Rifle is No. 5 in RPI this week, Delta is No. 9, and Aspen is No. 14, putting the Skiers just inside the top 16, which is where a team needs to be in order to make the playoffs. Aspen’s game at Rifle is a huge opportunity for either team to solidify itself as a legitimate contender. Basalt hosts Delta on Friday in what is another significant WSL game.
In boys soccer, Aspen and Basalt continue to hang around. The Skiers are No. 31 and the Longhorns No. 35 in RPI as of Monday afternoon. The 3A soccer bracket is made of 32 teams but, as AHS found out last year, being in the top 32 of RPI doesn’t guarantee you a spot with automatic league qualifiers coming into the picture.
With only two weeks to go, there isn’t much room for error for either team. Basalt has a big one Tuesday night against No. 3 Roaring Fork (No. 2 RPI). With only one league loss, the Longhorns still control their own destiny in terms of the WSL league title. The top two teams earn automatic playoff spots. At 2-3 in league, Aspen might have to depend on the RPI to make the postseason.
Aspen volleyball was quietly No. 26 in RPI as of Monday afternoon. The Skiers (11-5) play at Basalt on Tuesday night. The Longhorns, now 3-11 overall, lost 3-1 to a very good Delta team on Monday night.
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There might be part of Hailey Swirbul that is finally beginning to believe she belongs. The 22-year-old cross-country skier is coming off quite a stretch with the U.S. ski team, one that includes her first career World Cup podium and a successful go in the notorious Tour de Ski stage race.