Bears to build on past success |

Bears to build on past success

Jeff Caspersen
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Kelley Cox Post Independent

RIFLE, Colorado ” Rifle softball coach Cindy Skinner doesn’t dance around the fact her Bears are about to undertake a rebuilding process.

Gone to graduation is a nucleus ” Megan McWilliams, Alissa Skinner, Chelsea Webb, Marissa Wilkins and Tamara Kaczmarek ” that’s helped them win a lot of games in recent years.

Four of those girls spent their entire prep career on the varsity squad, and while it’s tough to replace that kind of experience, the rebuilding blocks are there.

Twenty-six players are out for the team in the first week of practice, and three of them are seniors who saw extensive playing time last season ” infielder Kelsey Pyle, outfielder Samantha Young and infielder Tori Fazzi.

Melding senior leadership with young talent, Coach Skinner’s hoping to field a competitive squad.

“Hopefully it’ll be a good year to rebuild,” said the third-year Rifle coach. “We really have a lot of skill. We just need to get that experience.”

And a couple of those younger players ” sophomores Shawnee Young and Alisha Rodebaugh ” have the potential to make a big impact. The pair are the frontrunners to replace one of the best recent one-two pitching punches on the Western Slope, the one formed by McWilliams and Alissa Skinner.

Grooming young talent is a challenge Coach Skinner embraces with open arms.

“It’s always fun to build them when they’re young and watch them grow,” she said. “We have quite a mix.”

If this year’s group learned anything from the Bears’ recent success, winning should come naturally to them.

Last year, Rifle pieced together a 15-4 record and won the 4A Western Slope League. The previous season saw the Bears make the regional playoffs in Aurora and a share of the league title.

One thing’s certain: The desire is there.

“It’s a real good group of girls out there,” said Coach Skinner. “They’re working hard and seem to be enjoying it. If they’ll listen to us and work with us, and keep up the strong work ethics, we should be OK.”

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