Bears hoping to reach competitive levels once again | PostIndependent.com

Bears hoping to reach competitive levels once again

Back for another season at the helm of the Rifle softball program, head coach Troy Phillips has a veteran team returning for the 2016 season, and with the number of experienced players returning, the pieces are in place for the Bears to make a run at the 4A Western Slope League title.

Last year’s seniors — Payton Phillips and Mackyla Parsons — have moved on due to graduation, but this year’s seniors — Kristen Fulton, Alexys Holder and Alexus Hendee — are back for their final go-around with Rifle softball.

Joining the trio of seniors is junior Peyton Caldwell and standout sophomore Kaitlyn Jackson, who was named to the 4A All-Conference team in 2015 as a freshman pitcher, as well as fellow sophomores Kaitlyn Harris and Shaeley Arneson, both of whom joined Jackson on the All-Conference team in 2015.

With the amount of young talent returning, the Bears are looking to make a push towards the playoffs in 2016.

“We hope to continue to improve,” Phillips said. “We have a ton of experience coming back, so another year of having the players in the system should really help us out. There’s a lot of team speed in key areas and we’re hoping to score some more runs this season and add some more wins.”

Softball:

Head Coach: Troy Phillips, second season

Last season: 8-11, 2-4 4A Western Slope League

Key Returners: Alexys Holder, Sr., 1B/SS/UTIL; Peyton Caldwell, Jr., INF/P; Kaitlyn Jackson, So., P/OF/1B; Kaitlyn Harris, So., C/P/INF; Shaeley Arneson, So., 3B/INF; Kristen Fulton, Sr., OF; Alexus Hendee, Sr., SS/P; Peyton Caldwell, Jr., INF/P

A new head coach and an experience core of players has the Rifle Bears boys soccer program hoping for tangible improvements in 2016.

Former head coach Rich Carter stepped down, clearing the way for David Romero, who takes over a scuffling program that has won just seven games the last two years while winning three total league games over the past two seasons.

But with a new coach in place and the help of a feeder club system in Rifle, the Bears should see an uptick in production, interest and results soon enough.

Senior captain Alexis Ramos returners to lead the Bears in 2016 coming off of a seven-goal season in 2015. Along with Ramos, sophomore Edgar Jaimes, sophomore Diego Suarez, senior Jose Quinones and junior Sam Rossilli return this fall having all scored at least one goal in 2015.

“They’re going to have a big impact,” Romero said. “With a lot of new players coming up this year, the speed of play is going to have a heavy impact on them for sure. It’s going to be huge for us to have goal scorers returning to us that we can rely on this year.”

Junior goalkeeper Chad Opstein also returns for another year looking to build off of a strong season despite facing nearly 12 shots per game last fall.

Boys Soccer:

Head Coach: David Romero, first season

Last season: 2-13, 0-9 3A Western Slope League

Key Returners: Alexis Ramos, Sr., D/MF; Edgar Jaimes, So., D/MF; Diego Suarez, So., MF; Jose Quinones, Sr., STRK; Sam Rossilli, Jr., D/MF; Caleb Opstein, Jr., GK, Oscar Crispin, Jr., D

Volleyball:

Head Coach: Kristen Noska, second season

Last season: 2-21, 0-14 2A Western Slope League

Key Returners: Sydney Wells, Sr.; Mackenzie Ventrello, Sr.; Fabiola Lopez, Sr.