‘Horns whiff in Strasburg
One player was noticeably absent when the Basalt girls softball team headed to districts earlier this month, but it might as well have been three players. Senior Lisa Warnecke, whom Longhorns coach Bruce Matherly called his best hitter, pitcher and third baseman, was sitting down to take the SATs while her teammates took the field in Strasburg. Basalt had little choice but to make do without its senior leader and managed to win one of its three games – a thrilling 12-11 come-from-behind victory against Alexander Dawson.”We went down there shorthanded,” said Matherly, whose team finished third in the 3A Western Slope after beating Aspen in its regular-season finale. “I’m proud of how they played overall.”Following a 17-0 loss to Lamar in their district opener, the Longhorns again trailed through six innings of their game with Alexander Dawson. In the bottom of the seventh, they made their move. Freshman leadoff hitter Alexa Aitken drew a walk and advanced to second on a fielder’s choice by Junior Hailey Guglielmo. Senior Jen Barton followed with an RBI triple. She scored on a passed ball to tie the game.Senior Katy Mulcahy followed, drawing a one-out walk. She advanced to third on two stolen bases. Senior Cassie Meyer, in her first season playing softball after three seasons with the volleyball team, singled home Mulcahy to clinch the victory.Meyer, an all-conference first team selection along with Barton and Warnecke, batted .500 at districts, with an on-base percentage of .700. Aitken garnered an all-conference honorable-mention nod.”I asked Cassie ‘Where were you last year?'” Matherly said. “She is the ultimate team player.”Aitken, who hit .386 in 63 at-bats this season and had an on-base percentage of .571, also held her own on the mound against Dawson. She struck out nine, walked 10 and scattered nine hits. “Considering she had to throw three games in one day, she did well,” Matherly said. “The more she throws, the more she’s dialed in. If she keeps working on her control and a couple pitches, she’ll be really solid for us next season.”Basalt, perhaps suffering the effects of the long trip or nerves, could muster just two hits in its opening contest against Lamar and were blanked, 17-0. The Longhorns were “one rally away” from getting back in Game 3 with Strasburg, Matherly said. But Aitken, while throwing accurately, understandably lost some steam. Strasburg, which led 8-2 through five innings, had 20 hits en route to its 17-3 victory. The Longhorns had seven hits.”People forget we graduated six starters last year,” Matherly said. “At districts we started Four freshman. To their credit, they held their own, and that’s good for the future.””This is a game where we really could’ve used Lisa.”In addition to her prowess on the mound – she averaged nearly a strikeout per inning in her 49 innings of work this year – Warnecke was a dominant force at the plate. She batted .455 and had 25 hits in 57 at-bats. She struck out just three times all year. Barton, an honorable mention selection a year ago, hit .432 in addition to playing solid defense at shortstop. In 59 at-bats, Barton had 16 hits and drew 18 walks.”She really worked the walks. She has such a good eye at the plate,” Matherly said. “When the pitch was there, she’d hit the ball hard. She lead us in extra-base hits and home runs.”Barton, Warnecke and Meyer are still in the running for all-state consideration.”It was almost like starting over this year with all of our youth, but we had a few upperclassmen hat we really relied on,” Matherly said. “When we played to our potential, we were a solid team.”Jon Maletz’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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