Broomfield senior Linnie Malkin was quite literally five feet from a fairy tale ending to her prep career.
Those around the Colorado softball circuit, however, will not remember the Eagles third baseman for one particular moment but for a four-year run as one of the state's most feared hitters.
Broomfield is still searching for its first state softball title after knocking on the door in 2016, but it was because of a team full of players like Malkin that they were respected to begin with and put up as the championship favorite through the season.
Malkin drew out the ire of every pitcher she faced, and her defense was slick and dependable. For her other-worldly type season, Malkin has been named the BoCoPreps.com softball player of the year.
"I just seemed to have a lot of confidence this year, and I don't know why other than maybe the fact it was my senior year and I figured I could just go out there with nothing to lose," Malkin said this week. "It felt good to do as well as I did, and just take off with my best season at Broomfield. I wanted to leave a legacy that other girls might look up to."
One only has to look back to the state championship game to recognize just how dangerous Malkin was. She put the hearts of plenty of spectators in their throats in the bottom of the eighth inning of a 1-0 game against Cherokee Trail, when she came up to the plate with a runner on and a chance to win the game.
She had already been completely robbed of a double by the Cougars center fielder earlier, and in her final at-bat she would get another pretty good swing to right field that came up just a few feet from being her 12th home run of the season. Cherokee Trail's place in state annals was secured.
Malkin was likely the only one on the field that knew it was going to be a bit short, but the Eagles might not have even been in that position were it not for her making several gold glove stops at third base throughout the game.
Defensively at the hot corner, she did not commit an error in two consecutive seasons.
"I love playing defense and loved playing third for my four years at Broomfield," Malkin said, adding the heartbreaking loss in title might also have been one of the most intense games she's ever been part of. "Making no errors was a huge accomplishment for me."
By sheer volume of chances, though, Malkin will be remembered for her offensive prowess, particularly in her final season. In the first four games of the season, she went 12-for-13 with six home runs and 12 RBI; she went on to finish with a .603 clip, 24 extra-base hits, 35 runs scored, 35 RBI, and just two strikeouts.
After clubbing two home runs in a regular-season game against Legacy, the Lightning walked her four times in their regional tournament game — and she still scored three times.
"I think the start I had just gave me more confidence, and I was excited about the rest of the season and what I could do to help my team," said Malkin, who amassed 32 home runs to just 15 strikeouts for her career. "I learned a lot about myself this season and grew as a player being in a leadership role. Our team had a great chemistry, and I hope to help in that role of bringing another team together like we had."
Malkin missed a couple of Broomfield games to do an official visit to Division I Arkansas, where she recently signed her national letter of intent to join the Razorbacks.