Basalt Longhorns softball player Olivia Goodman (Glenwood Springs) practices hitting while Zaida Leslie (Roaring Fork) readies her swing in the background during a recent practice at the Basalt field. Photo by John Stroud

Basalt High School senior Taylor Anthes knows that without her softball teammates from neighboring Roaring Fork and Glenwood Springs high schools she probably wouldn’t have the opportunity to play for her own school.

It’s only through the combination of players from the three Roaring Fork District schools that Basalt is able to field a team each fall.

And it’s a great way to build camaraderie across some of the traditional rivalries that crop up in other sports, agreed the four seniors who play on this year’s Longhorns team — Anthes from Basalt, Kyra Reeds and Zaida Leslie from Roaring Fork, and Olivia Goodman from Glenwood.

“It’s cool to be able to have softball at our school. Otherwise, I would probably have to go to Aspen,” Anthes said of the other Roaring Fork Valley high school that participates in softball.

Many of the teammates this quartet play with in their final season have come up just behind them through the local youth recreation league.

Like freshman pitcher Nyala Honey, who Anthes has been playing softball with since their rec league days.

“I only get to play high school softball with her for one year, so that’s been a lot of fun,” Anthes said.

It not only makes for a great mentoring opportunity, it bodes well for the Longhorns’ softball future, Reeds and Leslie said.

“We have a lot of younger girls that are having really good learning opportunities, because we don’t have a lot of seniors,” Reeds said. “So the younger girls get a lot more playing time than they would in any other varsity sport.”

Leslie was a former baseball player who switched to softball last year, and is enjoying her senior season.

“I like the diversity between the schools, and that we get to meet new people that we might not have met if we didn’t play softball together,” Leslie said. “It’s fun to hang out with them outside of softball, which is really cool.”

Goodman continues a line of talented Glenwood Springs High School student-athletes who played for the Basalt team, including three who’ve gone on to play collegiately, including Kiera Larson, who signed to play this year with Plymouth State University in New Hampshire, Willow Stoley in 2021 (Agnes Scott College, Georgia) and Aften Larsen in 2018 (Sterling College, Kansas). 

“I probably would never have met Kyra, or been as close with the other girls if I didn’t play softball,” said Goodman, who in the spring plays for another combined-school team, the Roaring Fork girls lacrosse team. “It’s also fun to have an opportunity to play another varsity sport.”

Reeds said she likes being able to connect with peers in her neighboring communities.

“We get to go to a lot of other sporting events and things that we wouldn’t have the chance to do in our home schools,” she said. 

Reeds is also a multi-sport athlete, competing in the hurdle events for Roaring Fork during track and field season, and Leslie rides motocross as one of her other sports.

The Basalt High softball team started up in 2010. Amy Bollock is in her fifth season coaching the Longhorns, who play in the competitive Class 3A Western Slope League.

Basalt was looking to get back into the league race with a double-header against league rival Meeker on the road on Monday. They were defeated 19-7, moving to 3-8 overall on the season and 1-5 in league play.

Basalt Longhorns softball player Zaida Leslie, a Roaring Fork High School student, makes a throw to first base during a recent practice at the Basalt field. Photo by John Stroud