Softball standout from Glenwood High, Willow Stolley, headed to DIII Agnes Scott
A chance to play baseball with the boys her freshman and sophomore years paid dividends for Glenwood Springs High School senior Willow Stolley, who is now set to play softball at the collegiate level next fall.
Stolley, who has been one of several Glenwood student-athletes to play for the all-district Basalt High School softball team, recently signed to play for Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia.
“I was looking at three schools, but it came down to Agnes Scott,” Stolley said of the all-girl school near Atlanta. “I think it’s going to suit me well. They have an amazing leadership program and strong academics, and their softball team is really good, too.”
Stolley played three of her four high school years with the Basalt team, which combines players from Basalt, Roaring Fork High in Carbondale and Glenwood High. The exception was her sophomore year when she was injured and couldn’t play in the fall.
Growing up playing in the area’s youth recreation leagues and the official Little League softball program when she was older, Stolley has had a longtime bond with several players who ultimately became her high school teammates.
Among them have been fellow Glenwood athletes Bella Meraz and Graci Dietrich, and Roaring Fork’s Corey Bollock and Maya Lindgren (who just signed to play college basketball at Coe College).
“We all grew up together and knew each other from Little League, so there’s a lot of sportsmanship between us,” Stolley said.
When she was in middle school, her parents, Tim and Ann Stolley (her mom coached the area Little League team) tried unsuccessfully to start a softball team at GSHS.
“I couldn’t not play high school softball,” Stolley said. “So, we decided we would find a way to get me up to Basalt every day during the season, whether it took car-pooling or my parents or grandparents driving me up there … we made it work.”
She also had previously played for Basalt assistant coach Amy Bollock, Corey’s mother, when she coached in the Carbondale recreation league.
“Willow is a leader, and is just accepting of everybody on the team,” Amy Bollock said of her protegé. “As a senior this year she really helped the freshmen along. She’s the kind of person who allows people to follow her, and she’s genuine in her leadership.”
Stolley asked Bollock to be present at her recent signing ceremony, along with her parents and family.
Stolley participated in other sports, including the GSHS swim team and middle school basketball, but always gravitated toward softball.
After her freshman softball season, she decided to join the boys on the baseball team in the spring, playing catcher and second base.
“The game moves a bit slower than softball, but my biggest issue was hitting,” she said. “The pitching is just faster and the ball is harder to read. The bats are also much heavier.
“They were all extremely welcoming to me, though,” Stolley said of her baseball teammates.
She didn’t get a single hit in baseball, but her junior year in softball she hit 12 home runs and had her best slugging percentage ever.
“Just the practice I was getting was huge, and I was a lot stronger player when I was also playing baseball,” she said.
Last fall, when the Longhorns finished at 9-7 on the season and 8-4 in the 3A Western Slope League, Stolley batted .477 over 16 games, with 21 hits, 18 RBIs, five stolen bases and 20 runs scored. As a utility player on defense, she had a fielding percentage of .815.
“Willow had a ton of improvement from her junior to her senior year with her infielding skills,” coach Bollock said. “She developed good, quick decision-making, which also helped on the base path.”
Knowing she wanted to take her game to the next level, Stolley said she also worked on developing her sportsmanship and team-player skills.
“It was good to experience different positions on the field, and help get the younger girls ready to move up to the next level,” Stolley said.
“I also really worked on my handwork skills, and getting ready for that next level … where I’ll see faster pitching and harder-hit balls.”
Also, given the COVID-19 restrictions the team had to adjust to, “just appreciating the game for what it is,” she said.
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Glenwood Springs High School’s girls basketball team needed one last win to defend its conference title Saturday afternoon on the road at Battle Mountain.