Bears top Eagle Valley, tie for 4A WSL League lead
RIFLE – As the last pitch slammed into Chelsea Webb’s glove, the remains of another Megan McWilliams’ strikeout, the Rifle Bears softball team defeated Eagle Valley and clinched its spot atop the Class 4A Western Slope League for the second consecutive season.Wednesday’s 10-1 victory gave the Bears a 7-1 WSL regular season finish, tying them with Palisade (7-1) as league champions. “It feels good,” said McWilliams, who threw five strikeouts, three of which came during the last three at bats in the seventh inning, in her complete game win. “Two years in a row.” With Palisade and Rifle sharing the same record and having split the season series against each other, the teams’ seedings in Saturday’s district tournament in Montrose will be decided by a coin toss.
The Colorado High School Activities Association will flip a coin today to see who gets a bye in the first round of the single-elimination, six-team tournament. The No. 1 seed will face the winner of the Montrose-Eagle Valley game and then have to win two games to be named district champion. The loser, will have to play Delta in the first round, and if it wins, then win two more to come out on top. The top two teams from the district will advance to the 4A state regionals.In order to get that far, the Bears will have to do what they have done all season.”They are going to have to stay disciplined in the box,” said Rifle head coach Cindy Skinner. “They have a really good handle on defense as far as what to do when they get the ball – as long as they get those plays, it will help tremendously. Keeping their heads in the game and keeping that intensity level is going to be key.”On Wednesday, Rifle showed how good it is on defense, holding the Devils to one run. Eagle Valley scored when Janette Baker doubled in the third inning to score Miranda Hicks. Danielle Canvana, who was on first, tried to come around and score, but was thrown out at the plate on a relay from Alissa Skinner in left field to Sarah Brusig at short stop to Webb at home.
“They are solid. They are solid at every position,” said Eagle Valley head coach Bill Beasly. “We played 5A and 6A (teams) this season and they are as solid as any team we played. They’ve got a great coaching staff, they are very disciplined and you really can’t say enough about ’em.”The Bears also had a lot of help from McWilliams’ five hitter. McWilliams was just as strong at the plate as she was from the mound, going 3-3 with a single, double and a triple while scoring two runs and driving in another two. Rifle third baseman Kendall Babler also scored two runs, one coming on an inside-the-park homer that sailed over the head of Eagle Valley’s left fielder.Rifle knocked in its last two runs when Tamara Kaczmarek beat out a grounder to first, allowing the Bears to score a run on a fielder’s choice and another on an error after the play.Having McWilliams and Skinner, Rifle’s ace, controlling games from the mound, Coach Skinner likes how her team has come together this season.
“That has been wonderful having a team to back them up, it has fallen together nicely and the girls – how they recognize each others’ strengths and play on that, they work together really well.Even with the possibility of having to face tough teams like Palisade and Southwest League Champion Montezuma-Cortez, McWilliams has her goal set.”To go out and play our hardest, play up to what we can and to go and win,” she said.
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This game. This rivalry. This season. It hasn’t meant this much in a long time.