Ignoring recent history, Basalt softball ready to make the most of regionals | AspenTimes.com

Ignoring recent history, Basalt softball ready to make the most of regionals

Regional schedule

Saturday in Basalt

10 a.m.: No. 15 Lamar vs. No. 18 Peak to Peak

12:15 p.m.: No. 2 Basalt vs. Game 1 winner

2:30 p.m.: If necessary, BHS vs. Game 1 loser

An eight-game losing streak to end the 2018 season didn’t create any great expectations for the Basalt High School softball team entering this fall. So, it’s fair to say even the Longhorns are a little surprised to be the No. 2 overall seed in Class 3A for regional play this weekend.

“You never know when you start a season what to expect. You can kind of envision what it might be. This is far better than I would have guessed,” second-year BHS coach David Miller said. “The bottom line is it comes from the girls. They get the credit. They’ve worked hard. They’ve listened to instruction. They’ve worked hard at trying to be a team rather than just good individual players. There is just a really good spirit on the team right now. And it has been basically all year long.”

Basalt will host its Class 3A Region 2 tournament on Saturday. No. 15 seed Lamar (13-10) will play No. 18 seed Peak to Peak (12-11) at 10 a.m., with No. 2 seed Basalt taking on the winner at 12:15 p.m. for the regional championship. A BHS win would end the day, while a loss would mean a final game at 2:30 p.m. against the Game 1 loser to decide who is regional runner-up.

Two of the three teams will advance to the state tournament, meaning Basalt only has to win once to continue its season past Saturday.

“I’m expecting to win, but I’m not going to take the teams we are playing lightly because last year when we did go to regionals we lost to a lower seed,” BHS junior pitcher Maya Lindgren said. “It’s all just how the game goes and how the girls are feeling that day and I think we are all going to have to put up a fight and that’s what I’m going to do and I hope that’s what the rest of the team is going to do, too.”

At 21-1 overall — and with a perfect 12-0 league record — the Longhorns should be heavy favorites to win Saturday on their own field. Basalt’s only loss came midway through the season by a single run to Conifer, which is the No. 13 seed in the Class 4A regionals. But, as Lindgren pointed out, regional play hasn’t gone well for BHS the past two seasons.

In 2018, amid a late-season free fall, Basalt lost as the No. 15 seed to No. 18 seed La Junta in its first regional game, 13-6, to end the year with a 9-10 overall record. In 2017, the final season under coach Marianne Gardner-Smith, Basalt also lost as the No. 15 seed, that time to No. 18 Fort Lupton, 14-5, to finish 11-9 overall.

This group, however, doesn’t believe it’s a one-and-done regional team.

“I see all those girls as my family and my sisters and they give me the strength, the courage, to put my all on the field because I know they will do the same,” Basalt senior Zoe Vozick said. “It’s never really smooth sailing. We work to get where we are. Every day we are individually doing stuff, as a team doing stuff, really just capitalizing on that family aspect that will help get us to state.”

Vozick — who is batting a staggering .685 this season with 50 hits and 54 RBI, all easily team highs, according to MaxPreps — played for the Longhorns when they last hosted regionals during her freshman season. Basalt was the No. 8 seed at regionals in 2016, but lost its opener to No. 9 seed Sterling, 14-3. Forced into a second game, BHS rallied to beat No. 24 Gunnison, 4-3, to survive and advance.

As the No. 12 seed in the 2016 state tournament, BHS lost 15-4 to No. 5 seed Lamar in the first round to finish the year 16-6 overall.

As it happens, Vozick and her senior counterparts might have another shot at beating Lamar on Saturday.

“I’m just excited to see how much we can do and where we can go from here,” said Vozick, who is certainly happy to have one final home game on the BHS field. “It means everything to me. I grew up on this field. I’ve learned everything I know about softball here. So it’s nice to be able to grow in more ways than one now with regionals here.”