Results mixed for Aspen, Basalt softball at invitational
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
ASPEN – Talk about a rough start.
After scuffling in the season’s opening week, which included doubleheader sweeps at the hands of both Montezuma-Cortez and Middle Park, the Skiers could muster no hits against Palisade starter Emily Crow in the first game of Saturday’s Aspen Invitational softball tournament. They wound up being blanked, 15-0, in a game shortened to four innings because of the mercy rule.
Aspen bounced back in a hurry, however. It strung together 10 hits, scored 12 runs and received a strong outing from starter Liz Baty in its nine-run victory against Cedaredge later in the day.
Finally, a reason to smile.
“To be able to rebound like they did and get that first win of the season is big,” Skiers head coach Jeremy Haack said. “It’s been a tough week, but this was a good ending. It’s great for our confidence.”
The win highlighted an otherwise inauspicious day for local teams; Aspen and Basalt combined to go 1-3. Against 4A Palisade, the Skiers and Longhorns were outscored, 32-2.
Aspen (1-5) seemingly was overmatched in its opener against the Bulldogs. Crow struck out the side in the third, recorded at least one punchout in each of her four innings of work and did not allow a baserunner until the fourth, when Aspen leadoff hitter Sydney Mondry drew a walk; she was later caught stealing at third.
No Skiers batter hit a ball out of the infield. Palisade had no such offensive struggles, striking for five runs in the first and seven in the second to break the game open. Breanna Poundstone lined an RBI triple to deep right and Kendra Barnes added an RBI groundout in a first inning in which three other runs scored on a passed ball, a dropped third strike and an outfield error.
Palisade had just one hit in the second but capitalized on four Aspen errors. The Bulldogs plated five two-out runs in the frame, highlighted by Nicole Routhier’s two-run single.
“We just gave them too many extra outs,” Haack said.
Longhorns head coach Bruce Matherly can relate. His team, which pushed across two runs in the top of the first on a wild pitch and an error, surrendered 10 runs on just two hits to Palisade in the bottom of the inning.
With the bases loaded, Basalt starter Alexa Aitken walked two and hit a batter in succession to surrender three runs and was victimized by a dropped fly ball that plated three others. She was chased from the game after retiring just two of the 10 batters she faced. Reliever Katie King received a rude welcome – a two-run double from Tiffany Wells, then a run-scoring triple from Shelby Hanson, who came all the way around to score on an error.
“That first inning killed us. It was the difference in the game,” said Matherly, whose team beat Palisade in a tournament in Grand Junction in June. “Once you dig yourself a hole like that, then you really press. … You don’t play smoothly.
“It was our first time out the box … and what you saw was rust. It will take a while to knock it off.”
The coach can take solace in the fact that his team fared well against 4A Delta in the day’s first game – nearly pulling off a dramatic come-from-behind win. After spotting the Panthers five runs, The Longhorns mounted a five-run rally in the six highlighted by two-run singles from Jamie Matherly and Kenzie Kuhn.
Delta responded, loading the bases with three singles in the top of the seventh. Aitken then hit a batter to force in the go-ahead run before snaring a come-backer and alertly firing to third to complete a double play and escape further trouble. Basalt could muster little in its half of the seventh, however, and fell, 6-5.
Afterward, Bruce Matherly was left pondering his team’s squandered scoring chances – none bigger than in the fifth, when Jamie Matherly tried to stretch a triple into a home run and was thrown out at the plate.
“Unfortunately, the next batter grounded out to second, then there was a passed ball,” Matherly said. “It happens. … We know we’ll get better. The girls know that, too.”
Haack is just happy to wind up on the winning end. For that, he can thank Nicole Twohig and Claire Kornasiewicz, who each had three hits, and Baty, who scattered six hits and struck out five Bruins in a complete-game effort.
“We finally got the bats going, and the defense looked a lot better in that second game,” said Haack, who had to replace four starters at key positions (catcher, first base, shortstop and center field) this offseason. “The good news is we have a couple more weeks to get better before the conference starts.”
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