Basalt High softball’s Afton Larsen signs with Sterling College in Kansas

Josh Carney
Glenwood Springs Post Independent
Glenwood Springs High School senior Afton Larsen signs her national letter of intent to play softball at Sterling College in Kansas as her parents, Joely and Bob, look on.
Courtesy photo

Glenwood Springs High School senior Afton Larsen, the daughter of Bob and Joely Larsen, said she wanted a sense of home with her college of choice.

Following a visit with Sterling College in Kansas, Larsen immediately felt that same sense of home with that small town, leading to her signing to play softball with the Warriors under the guidance of second-year coach Alyssa James.

“I met their coach at a summer camp last summer,” said Larsen, who played for the Basalt High School softball team. “I talked to her after the camp and she liked everything she saw from me. Once I took a visit, I knew I was in love with it.

“Sterling reminded me a lot of Glenwood Springs. It’s a good town and a good community. It’s small, which reminds me of home. That’s what I was looking for. It’s a huge relief to have signed with Sterling; it takes off so much pressure knowing where you’re going to go after you graduate. Now all I have to worry about in my senior year is keeping my grades up.”

Larsen joins a program that recently went 13-27 (6-16 Kansas Collegiate Athletic Conference), so she’ll have a good shot at playing right away in a number of roles. However, playing time and a possible starting role with the Warriors wasn’t what pushed Larsen in the direction of Sterling; it was schooling first and foremost.

The senior, who played for Basalt the past four seasons due to GSHS not offering a softball program, will pursue a career in athletic training. She currently takes Marni Barton’s athletic training class at Glenwood Springs High School.

“Playing time and my role with the team was more of an afterthought when I decided I wanted to go to Sterling,” Larsen said. “Obviously, it’s great to get a chance to play softball at the next level, but I was also looking for a good school that had what I wanted to study.

“I’ve been taking Marni’s class this year and I’ve fallen in love with athletic training. If I can stay around sports once I’m done playing, that would be awesome. This path in my studies gives me that chance.”

On the diamond, Larsen can play almost every position, which gives James flexibility on where to use her the next four years.

“I’m not really sure about my own role with the team right now, other than being that super utility player,” Larsen said. “Coach James knows that I can play that role and that I’m comfortable playing anywhere. But she’s really big on competing for spots, so if I come in next year and outwork or outplay an upperclassman, I can possibly grab a starting position.”

As a member of the Longhorns, Larsen was second on the team in 2018 in hitting, batting .451 in her senior season. Larsen scored 27 runs, recorded 23 hits, drove in eight runs and recorded one triple. She also walked 11 times, struck out just once and posted a .556 on-base percentage.

Larsen also led the team with 10 steals in 14 attempts, helping the Longhorns go 9-10 (5-6 3A District 5) before losing in the 3A Region 2 playoffs to Montezuma-Cortez and La Junta.

As a senior leader and a four-year member of the Longhorns, Larsen had to step up as a leader for a young group that had just four seniors.

“I really had to learn how to become a leader and try to lead young players,” Larsen said. “We were so young and needed players to step up. That’s really going to help me in college. This last year in high school I thought I did a really good job of stepping up and filling that leadership role.”

Larsen was an honorable mention all-state selection in Class 3A this fall.