Diamond stars set to battle in Rifle
RIFLE, Colorado – In 2005, Rifle head baseball coach Troy Phillips organized the first-ever Western Slope League All-Star game at the conclusion of the spring season. Three years later, the annual contest is not only still running strong, but it’s getting a partner.
On Tuesday, in addition to the all-star baseball game, there will be an all-star softball game. Cindy Skinner, Rifle’s softball coach, is a driving force behind the contest.”It is a good opportunity to get the girls out there and play another softball game,” Skinner said. “I think it is going to be good, and we are hoping to make it an annual thing.”With fewer softball teams in the area, the girls contest will combine the best players on the Western Slope from both the 4A and 5A classes – as opposed to the baseball game, which features only Class 4A players. The stars will include those from teams like Rifle, Grand Junction, Fruita Monument, Grand Junction Central and Palisade.Rifle, a perennial Class 4A state playoff qualifier, will be represented by four-year standouts Alissa Skinner, Megan McWilliams and Chelsea Webb. Splitting time as starting pitcher and infielder for the Bears, Skinner rang up 53 strikeouts, in an equal number of innings, while hitting .413 and scoring 32 runs.
McWilliams led Rifle with a .518 batting average to go with team highs in home runs and RBIs. As a pitcher McWilliams went 7-2 in 2008. Webb, Rifle’s catcher, smashed out 10 extra-base hits while hitting .446.Coach Skinner will take the reins for one squad in the all-star game, while Grand Junction Central head coach Sebrina Juarez will be in charge of the other.The game is scheduled to start at 5 p.m. at Deerfield Complex in Rifle, and the boys game will follow at 7 p.m. While the hardball game will cap off the baseball season, the softball tilt comes quite a distance from the fall high school softball season. Skinner said she has been encouraging her players to play catch and get some hitting in on their own time to prepare for the game. She also said the girls will be arriving to the game early to warm up and so that coaches can evenly split the group into two teams.
The fourth-annual baseball game will feature selected players from Palisade, Eagle Valley, Rifle and Glenwood Springs against a squad consisting of standouts from Moffat County, Delta, Steamboat Springs and Battle Mountain. Palisade head coach Steve Moore will manage the consortium of Palisade/Eagle Valley/Rifle/Glenwood Springs stars. Moffat County skipper Kip Hafey will direct the opposing team.Rifle contributes three starters off the Bears’ 2008 squad in seniors Kyle Bond (.393, 14 RBIs; 58 strikeouts as a pitcher), Asa Fix (.444, 23 RBIs) and Zach Whitmore (.407, 16 stolen bases). All-league catcher Chad Sommers (.391, 21 RBIs) of Glenwood Springs gives Moore additional depth. Grand Junction Free Press sports reporter Phil Sandoval contributed to this report.
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Fans, players and coaches on both sides of Stubler Memorial Field seemed to know it would come down just the way it did, regardless of who had the ball at the end.