Traveling the valley for the love of the game
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Not having a softball team at Glenwood Springs High School didn’t stop Demon freshmen Morgan Armbruster and Kenzie Kuhn from having impressive seasons on the diamond.They just had to travel to do it. The pair played for Basalt, the closest school with a team in the Roaring Fork School District, and helped the Longhorns go 10-10, finish second in the Class 3A Western Slope League and make it to districts. “They were all really nice. The coaches were nice, the girls all introduced themselves,” Armbuster said of the team whose schedule included games against nine 4A teams and one 5A. “We had a pretty good season. We got pretty smashed by some teams, but we also beat some teams pretty good.”The youth of Basalt’s program, which played its third varsity season this year, was matched by the players on its roster. Six freshmen, including Armbruster and Kuhn, as well as three sophomores, made up the starting squad.
“We had played against them over the years during summer ball and knew they were good players,” said Basalt head coach Bruce Matherly. “They fit right in and the Basalt kids accepted them like they’d been with us all along.”Kuhn and Armbruster didn’t just take up a spot in the lineup, either. Both made an impact for Basalt and played in all the Longhorns’ games. Kuhn started behind the plate as catcher, where she gunned down nine baserunners – one short of the Basalt team record. Offensively, she hit .396 and stole 12 bases. Her totals were good enough to earn her a spot on the 3A Western Slope All-League squad.”Kenzie was rock solid as our starting catcher,” Matherly said.Armbruster started in center field, hit .250, stole nine bases and hit the Longhorns’ only home run of the season – an inside-the-parker against Gunnison. “She can cover a lot of ground and has one the best arms I’ve seen on a freshman outfielder,” Matherly said of Armbruster. “They will both be a big part of our future success.”Kuhn and Armbruster’s efforts were rewarded, as both lettered for both Basalt and Glenwood. “We have a G and B for our Glenwood jackets,” Armbruster said. “We’ll have the Bs on the inside so it is closer to our hearts.”Armbruster is hoping to get her jacket for Christmas while Kuhn is going to wait and see if she letters in basketball, her favorite sport.
The statistics are even more impressive when considering Kuhn and Armbruster’s pasts.This year was the first time Kuhn played softball. She grew up playing baseball for different teams in Glenwood before being introduced to softball at a camp two summers ago. Then she played softball this summer before joining the Longhorns in fall play.”It was pretty easy,” Kuhn said of the switch. “It’s kinda different with the throwing motion, it’s heavier.”With one year of experience under her belt, Kuhn now admits she likes softball better.
Then there is Armbruster, who played her whole softball career as a pitcher prior to joining Basalt. The now center fielder started playing softball when she was seven and grew up playing for teams in Glenwood, Carbondale, New Castle and Aspen.”I ended up really liking it,” Armbruster said of moving to the field. “It was a lot of fun.”For the first two weeks of the season, Kuhn and Armbruster traveled to Basalt for two-a-days. They made it for batting practice in the morning and then came back for defensive practice in the early evening.”They carpooled and never missed a single practice or event – talk about dedication,” Matherly said.While Kuhn is playing basketball for Glenwood right now and plans on playing soccer for the Demons in the spring, she said she will be back with the Longhorns in the fall. So will Armbruster.”Oh yeah. All the way ’til I am a senior,” she said. “Then during summer ball I think I am going to play with them, to,o instead of going to New Castle.”Matherly sure hopes they will be back to wear purple again.”I’m really proud of both of them,” he said. They are going to be really good if they stay as dedicated as they are now. I can’t imagine not having them on the team for the next three years.”
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