Big second inning leads Rifle softball to win over Meeker
Finding itself down a run entering the second inning Thursday at Taughenbaugh Field in Rifle, the Rifle Bears girls softball team erupted for an astounding 17 runs against the Meeker Cowboys, turning a 3-2 deficit into a pain-free 19-3 win in three innings.
Rifle jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first inning as senior leadoff hitter Delaney Phillips dropped down a bunt single and then stole second and third base, scoring on an RBI double by junior Abigail Bonuales. The junior shortstop then stole third and scored on an RBI single by senior Zoey Loya.
Meeker responded in the top of the second inning against senior pitcher Hannah Bodrogi as Cowboys shortstop Matilda Brown led off with a loud double off the fence in left-center, sparking the Cowboys. Two batters later, Ruby Holliday dropped down a bunt single that slipped between Rifle’s third and first basemen, putting runners on first and third. Then, Mykala Wille dropped down another bunt for the Cowboys, which put Brown in a rundown after a great play by Rifle third baseman Emma Poole caught Brown off the base. However, Brown outran the rundown and scored the first run of the game for the Cowboys, setting off a celebration in the away dugout.
The Cowboys then scored two more runs on a passed ball and a fielder’s choice to take a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the frame.
“Not too much went wrong for us in that inning,” Troy Phillips, Rifle’s longtime head coach said following the win. “They started off with a double, and then a couple of bunts. We just didn’t finish the rundown the way we wanted to. It’s something we’ve been working on, but didn’t just finish it up the way we wanted to. Emma made a great play, but we didn’t finish the execution we’ve worked on.”
Trailing at home one game after clinching a fourth straight 4A Western Slope League championship, Rifle’s bats caught fire, erupting for 17 runs in the bottom of the second inning.
“It’s been pretty cool, because every time a team scores, we’re not worried because we know we’re going to score a bunch of runs,” Phillips said. “There’s no panic, because we’re just expecting to score a bunch of runs and answer back, because we’ve had nine hitters through the lineup hitting and contributing.”
Poole led off with a booming double into the left-center gap and scored one batter later on an RBI single by junior Raelynn Hampton, tying the game at 3-3.
Freshman Myia Valencia then singled to put runners on first and second before Delaney Phillips dropped down another bunt single, driving in Hampton from second to make it 4-3 Rifle. Bodrogi then walked before Bonuales doubled again, making it 7-3 Rifle.
Freshman Hailey Worton then slapped a triple down the right field line to make it 9-3, leading to another double from Poole that all but put the game out of reach for the Cowboys. Hampton and Worton later singled and doubled as the Bears batted around in the inning before Poole roped her third double of the game down the left field line.
“It’s been, really all season, that she’s [Pool] been hitting a lot of line drives into the gaps,” Phillips said. “You saw that tonight with three straight doubles, two in the gap and one down the line. She did the same thing against Palisade. She’s seeing the ball really well, hitting the center of the ball and just making consistent contact; it’s been fun to watch.”
Holding a 19-3 lead, Rifle turned to freshman pitcher Alexa O’Donnell to close out the win. The freshman struck out the first batter before getting a pop-out to second and a comebacker to the mound to finish off the 16-run win.
Rifle improves to 11-2 on the season and sits just six wins away from tying the school record for wins in a single season, which was set last year. The Bears have 11 games remaining on the schedule, including Tuesday’s 4A Western Slope League matchup against Eagle Valley at home.
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Six prep volleyball players from Garfield County schools earned first-team 3A Western Slope League honors.