New faces hope to keep standards high with Rifle softball
Head Coach: Troy Phillips, eighth year
Last Season: 17-8, 4-0 in 4A WSL, lost to Mountain View and Evergreen in regionals, set school record for wins in a single season
Key Returners: Hannah Bodrogi, Sr.; Delaney Phillips, Sr.; Zoey Loya, Sr.; Abigail Bonuales, Jr.; Kaylie Stark, So.
Players to Watch: Hailey Worton, Fr.; Alexa O’Donnell, Fr.; Myia Valencia, Fr.; Kylie McKibben, Fr.; Emma Poole, So.; Raelynn Hampton, Jr.; Jade Croy, So.; Logan Cox, Jr.
The 2018 season was a culmination of four years of hard work and overall development for the Rifle Bears softball program under veteran head coach Troy Phillips.
Behind a number of experienced, talented seniors and a deep, well-rounded roster, the Bears dominated all season long on their way to a 17-8 season, winning yet another 4A Western Slope League championship while grabbing a playoff spot again.
Those 17 wins set a single-season school record for the Bears, capping off an incredible four-year run for the senior class of 2018.
Unfortunately for Rifle, the Bears will be without the standout battery of pitchers in Kaitlyn Jackson and Kaitlyn Harris, as well as Shaeley Arneson at third base and outfielder Amanda Green, all of whom graduated.
However, Rifle sees seniors Hannah Bodrogi, Delaney Phillips and Zoey Loya return from last year’s team, as well as junior Abigail Bonuales, giving the Bears key experience at the top of the roster.
Rifle certainly lost quite a bit of talent due to graduation, but it would be foolish to count out a strong program like Rifle this fall.
“It’s interesting,” Phillips said. “I’m pretty excited about this year because there’s a lot of people who think we won’t be pretty good because of who we lost.
“We have a chance to be really competitive and a chance at another league championship again. Losing Kaitlyn Jackson was a big loss, so we need pitching. If we can hit the ball consistently, play some good defense and try to get by with pitching, hopefully we can still be competitive enough to win some games, maybe push for a league championship and a spot in the state playoffs.”
The Bears will look to freshman Alexa O’Donnell to step up as a pitcher, while Bodrogi will get a look on the mound. Loya will likely slot in at catcher, while Phillips will play second base and should rack up the stolen bases once again. Phillips is a career .441 hitter and has 106 stolen bases.
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PREP ROUNDUP: Rifle softball claims 4th straight 4A WSL championship; Coal Ridge volleyball tops Roaring Fork in 4 sets
Rifle softball won its fourth straight 4A Western Slope League championship thanks to a 15-5 win over Palisade Tuesday night at Taughenbaugh Field in Rifle, while the Coal Ridge Titans girls volleyball team picked up a 3-1 win over the Roaring Fork Rams in Carbondale.