Bears’ softball season comes to an end in semis
GRAND JUNCTION – Throughout the softball season Rifle developed a knack for comebacks. So, it wasn’t all that surprising, when the Bears stumbled early in their District 1 tournament quarterfinal game against Montrose, then rallied for a 7-5 win to advance to the semifinals.But, asking for two rallies in the same day, under playoff pressure, was too much for the Bears, who concluded the year with an 11-1, run-rule loss to Eagle Valley in the semis. “We were 2-8 early in the season and the team and set some pretty high goals” at that point, coach Troy Phillips said.The Bears went on to win six out of their next eight league games.” I didn’t know we could do that, but the girls reached those goals.”And, Rifle reached back from a 5-0 third inning deficit against Montrose with four runs in the bottom of the inning and three scores in the fourth.The Bears converted four walks and two wild pitches by Indians pitchers Amanda Holman and Tisha Vickory to narrow Montrose’s lead to 5-4 in the third.Another wild pitch by Vickory, in the fourth, allowed Rifle baserunner Alissa Skinner to score from third with the game-winner. Trisha McDowell started the rally with a leadoff single, one of Rifle’s two hits in the contest.Bear pitcher Megan McWilliams kept Montrose at bay by tossing four shutout innings and limiting the Indians to two baserunners.”I was a little worried the way we started,” Phillips said. “But, they didn’t give in. We manufactured some runs and got enough to get into (the semifinals) against Eagle.The tables were reversed in the semifinals.Rifle took the opening lead against Eagle Valley on McWilliams’ RBI single in the first. It was the only time the Bears held the lead.The early advantage added fuel to Eagle Valley leadoff hitter Emily Lybarger’s anger.”We felt like we owed them,” Lybarger said. “We lost to them in Rifle, when we should have beat them. So, I wanted to give it my best shot.”The Devils followed Lybarger’s lead.The leadoff hitter went 3-for-4, scored twice and had a pair of RBIs as part of an 11-hit attack.Eagle Valley, up 3-1 at the start of the inning, scored six runs in the third, then added two more scores in the fourth for the final score.But, the defeat fails to diminish what Rifle accomplished in 2004.”They got themselves into this tournament as the third seed which was better than we could expect considering where we were earlier in the season,” said Phillips. “I appreciate how they hard worked and how far they’ve come this year.”Only one starter graduates this year, so most of the squad will be back in 2005.Only one starter graduates this year, so most of the squad will be back in 2005.
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