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Softball: Basalt rolls past Steamboat

Jon Maletz
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

BASALT ” Jamie Matherly was admittedly frustrated.

After facing the minimum through the first two innings, the pitcher’s confidence waned in the third inning Wednesday against visiting Steamboat Springs. After a lead-off single, she walked two straight, hit a batter then surrendered a three-run double. The sophomore had a brief spat with the home plate umpire and her defense committed two untimely errors.

Despite recording just two hits in the inning, the Sailors pushed across five runs.

“It’s hard to keep throwing strikes all the time, and you get caught up when the defense is making mistakes,” Matherly said. “You have to block it out and keep pitching.”

She did just that. Matherly struck out two consecutive batters to end the third, stranding two runners, then led off the bottom of the inning with a ringing inside-the-park home run.

Order was restored.

A day after 10 different batters combined to rack up 13 hits in a 10-0 win over Cedaredge, the Longhorns had just seven hits Wednesday. It’s all they needed. Steamboat starter Darcy Hornstein struggled with her control all game, walking 12 and hitting three. Basalt scored four runs in the first, then sent 12 to the plate during a nine-run second and cruised to the 19-7 win in a game shortened to five innings because of the mercy rule.

“The girls really stayed focused,” Longhorns assistant coach Steve Aitken said. “They knew they needed to get another win. … They maintained their sharpness and stayed keen.”

With Saturday’s doubleheader with 3A District 7 leader Gunnison loom large ” a series that will ostensibly determine the conference champion ” the Longhorns proved early they weren’t overlooking the Sailors. Matherly struck out the first two batters she faced, then induced a week grounder to first. In the bottom half of the inning, five straight batters walked after an opening groundout ” four scored.

Connor Adams led off the second with a bunt single and was the first of six straight Basalt batters to reach. Alexa Aitken had an RBI double and Abby King a run-scoring single. Two Longhorns scored on errors and five others crossed home on wild pitches or passed balls.

“[Hornstein’s] a good pitcher, but she’s a little wild,” Matherly said. “You have to be patient at the plate, but you also can’t watch a strike go by. If you see one you like, you have to take it.”

Matherly did just that in the third inning, lining the first pitch she saw over the head of the left fielder, then cruised around the bases for an inside-the-park home run. Kenzie Kuhn scored later to stretch the Longhorns’ lead to 15-5.

Katie King hit an RBI double and Aitken added a run-scoring single during Basalt’s four-run fourth. Matherly and Aitken scored on a passed ball and an error, respectively.

Matherly worked around one hit and two errors in the fourth, striking out two batters to end the inning and leave the bases loaded. She retired the side in order in the fifth to seal the win.

She struck out 10 and walked four.

“She was fairly dialed in all game,” Steve Aitken said of Matherly. “We know going into the season that we can’t ride one arm down in Aurora. There are days when we may play two or three games.”

But first, a showdown with the Cowboys to end the regular season. Basalt clinched no worse than a second-place league finish after Tuesday’s victory in Cedaredge. If they sweep Gunnison on Saturday, the Longhorns will clinch the conference title.

“I told the girls it’s there for the taking,” Aitken said. “They know that. They’re really focused and hitting on all cylinders right now.”

“Gunnison is going to be tough, and we’re going to have to hang in there,” Matherly added. “We’re going to have to take it one game at a time, but I think we can do it.”

jmaletz@aspentimes.com


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