Fat bats, good pitching earns victory for Bears
RIFLE – Speed, patience and knowledge of the opposing pitcher came together at the right time for the Bears to take a 9-6 softball win over Delta Thursday night.Kelsey Pyle’s second double of the game for a run, combined with Alissa Skinner’s infield ground out that scored Candace Stilson from third, followed a run-scoring single by Jessica Martinez, gave Rifle a win.It was a result that, at the start of the game, appeared improbable. But giving up is not part of this club’s karma.Down by four runs prior to its first at-bat, Rifle could have surrendered to the Panthers and put the blame on homecoming week for a poor effort. After using the rest of the first to pull themselves back together, the Bears started to retaliate from the second frame on.”I really wasn’t thinking about it,” Kendall Babler said of Rifle’s early deficit. “I stepped up and told myself that I had to hit the ball.”Babler punched a ball to deep left field off losing pitcher Maggie Conger, then raced around the bases for an inside-the-park home run that ignited a three-run third inning to give Rifle its first lead.The rest of the Bears hit just as well. Rifle whacked out 13 hits in the contest.Still, victory wasn’t easy.The Bears had to mount a second comeback in the fifth to take the lead for good after allowing a 5-4 advantage slip away on defensive errors. But Delta’s slim 6-5 lead was not a big concern to Rifle. By then, the Bears had figured Conger’s pitching style well. A combination of Panther errors and Pyle’s extra-base hit in the fifth gave Rifle the lead for good.”I had figured (Conger) was going to pitch the ball right down the middle. That’s where I hit best. And, I’d just nailed it out there,” Pyle said. “We had her figured out by the end of the last game we played against them,” Babler added. “So we all came in prepared that she’d throw the inside pitch and straight down the middle.”Meanwhile, Delta couldn’t figure out a formula to combat Skinner.Taking over the pitching duties in the second, when starter Megan McWilliams couldn’t find her control after giving up four wild pitches and an equal number of walks in the first, Skinner limited Delta to two unearned runs in six innings with seven strikeouts.”It was really good that I could throw strikes when I needed to,” Skinner said.
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Down 14-7 with less than 11 minutes left in regulation, Rifle head coach Todd Casebier decided it was time to deviate from his ground-and-pound offense for a bit of an aerial attack.