Bears shrugoff 9-8 loss
GRAND JUNCTION – Don’t be fooled by Rifle’s early season 1-3 record. As a unit, the 2006 Bears softball team know they’ve got something special.They proved that point in a 9-8 loss to a stunned Grand Junction squad on Saturday. The Class 5A Tigers, normally a Class 5A state playoff qualifier, had to have a big inning to polish off the upset-minded 4A Bears.Down to its final three outs, because the 90-minute game time limit had expired, Grand Junction got its wish when it pushed across four runs in the bottom of the sixth inning. Senior Tiffany Van Cleave’s base hit to left scored Reanna Trottier from third, clinching the Tigers’ comeback over hard-luck loser Megan McWilliams (1-1), who threw all six innings. The defeat fails to dim the confidence Rifle gained at this weekend’s Peachfuzz Tournament. Instead, the 16-0 win over Durango Friday coupled with the tight battle with the Tigers affirmed what head coach Cindy Skinner feels of the ’06 team.”I’m really pleased with the effort and the skills the girls are putting in. You can tell they love (softball). They work hard at the game, and they are continuing to learn the game,” Skinner said.Skinner hopes the effort Rifle’s put into its non-league schedule – all with 5A teams to date – translates into victories when league play starts in 10 days.On Saturday, the Bears held a lead on Grand Junction twice. Sarah Brusig’s two-run single broke a 2-all tie in the third inning, scoring Kendall Babler and McWilliams, who had gotten aboard earlier.Later, the senior shortstop cracked an opposite-field triple over the head of Grand Junction right fielder Rose Rasevsky in a four-run, Rifle fourth inning that extended the lead to 8-3.Jessica Martinez, Chelsea Webb and Babler sandwiched hits around three Grand Junction errors to form the rally.And, the Bears were on the verge of adding more runs in the sixth after the Tigers got two back in their half of the fifth. With one out, Rifle loaded the bases on singles from Kelsey Pyle, Martinez and a sack-filling walk from Grand Junction pitcher Cierra Lard on Webb.Then the Tigers senior, who earned her second win in three starts, regained her control – striking out McWilliams and Babler to end the threat.On Friday, Rifle routed Durango, 16-1, when it sent 10 hitters to the plate in the fourth and fifth innings. Babler had three hits, including a double and triple, with two RBIs. Martinez added a two-run single. McWilliams tossed a one-hitter in the five-inning game, called by the mercy rule. Prior to the win, the Bears lost 10-0 to Fruita Monument.
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