Bear softballers beat Palisade, extend win streak to 7
GRAND JUNCTION – For a game with first place riding on the outcome, Palisade mustered up just enough offense to make Tuesday’s game with Rifle interesting.The Bulldogs never held a lead in the 16-7 loss, but Palisade swung the bats well enough to force the first match between the Class 4A Western Slope League’s top two teams to a full seven innings.That fact should give Palisade solace heading into next week’s rematch with the Bears in Rifle.Palisade dropped to 3-1 in Class 4A Western Slope League play and 11-4 overall and snapped a five-game winning streak. The Bears moved to 5-0 in league and 12-4 on the year. The victory also upped Rifle’s winning streak to seven straight games.”They jumped on us early and hit the ball well. Our hats go off to Rifle. They have a good ball club,” said Bulldogs coach John Vanlandingham. “But our girls really didn’t get down. They stayed up, came back and kept plugging away and scored a run or two every inning. Rifle’s a good ball club but we had some throwing errors that cost us some runs.”Make that a lot of runs.Eight errors, along with numerous balls Palisade’s defensive alignment failed to get, opened the door for the Bears to have a big inning.That happened in the fifth when Rifle took advantage of four Bulldog errors as a springboard for seven runs to go up 13-3. The outburst came right after Palisade pulled back to a 6-3 deficit after trailing 6-1 in the second.Megan McWilliams had the big hit of the rally when the Bears senior pitcher punched a fly ball to center that turned into a three-run inside-the-park home run.”I was thinking that I had to run fast and keep running,” McWilliams said. Palisade outfielder Amber Odekirk mistimed the ball and it hit the base of the wall untouched.The blast scored Alissa Skinner and Chelsea Webb who got aboard earlier in the frame. Rifle batted through their entire lineup in the fifth, sending 13 hitters to the plate.Kelsey Pyle had four hits of Rifle’s combined 18 hits in five at bats. Along with the homer, McWilliams also doubled twice. Webb and Tori Fazzi each had a triple.In five league games, including Tuesday’s game, Rifle has outscored its opponents 111-9. McWilliams credited the coaches Cindy Skinner and Troy Phillips for the team’s hitting improvement.”Coach Skinner and Phillips work on hitting with us every day, and working on that every day, we get confidence that we can hit,” she said.In the pitching circle, Mc Williams earned her sixth win of the year (against two losses) with six strikeouts. “It could have been a little better. But I felt pretty good about it in this tough a game,” she said.
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Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or email@example.com