Rifle overcomes deficit, takes down Palisade on softball diamond
Grand Junction Correspondent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
PALISADE, Colorado ” When challenged, Rifle flashed its fangs. And Palisade wilted.
The host Bulldogs stunned the recently crowned Western Slope League champs when they took a short-lived three-run lead in the latter innings of an eventual 9-6 loss in Thursday’s regular-season finale.
“Everything came together at the last game of the season,” said Palisade coach John Van Landingham. “I told them they could play with anybody in this league. They didn’t seem to believe me until tonight when they put in together themselves.”
Rifle (8-0 league, 15-4 overall) responded from the 6-3 deficit in the fourth, an inning in which the Bulldogs took advantage of two Bear errors in between Emily Crow’s RBI double with two runs in the fifth to get close, by grabbing the lead for good in the seventh.
Sophomore Dannan Dueitt flipped the lead back to Rifle on a two-out, bases-loaded triple to right off Crow, the losing pitcher.
The hit was the second of the day for the sophomore catcher, who was knocked home a batter later when Alisha Rodebaugh banged her third hit of the game in four at-bats for the last of the four-run rally.
Rifle head coach Cindy Skinner said the win came from the team’s ability to put into practice what they learned earlier in the year.
“They work together, listen to what we (as coaches) say and they take the challenge and make it work for them. They’re not quitters by any means. They’re fighters,” said Skinner.
As a team, Rifle showed its fight from the fourth inning on.
Having sewn up the league title with a win over second-place Delta and a high seed at next week’s regional tournament, Thursday’s contest was window dressing to Rifle.
They could very well have turned the game over to Palisade at that point. But, the Bears’ fighting spirit wouldn’t allow that.
Four Palisade errors aided Rifle in a two-run sixth, in which the Bears pared the Bulldogs’ lead to 6-5. A wild throw to third by catcher Kendra Barnes allowed baserunner Ciara Euler to score without a play for the first run.
Dueitt extended the rally when she got aboard on Palisade second baseman Hannah Treadway’s second error of the inning. Rodebaugh took advantage of the defensive lapse with an RBI single to narrow the gap down to a run.
Shawnee Young, Rifle’s starting pitcher, came back from being pulled from the circle in the fourth, when the sophomore gave up two of Palisade’s three runs, to throw three scoreless innings afterwards for the win.
Palisade ended the year third in league with a 3-5 mark and 8-11 overall record.
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