Rifle softball heads to 4A regional playoffs
For the second consecutive season the Rifle softball team won the 4A Western Slope League Championship with a 7-1 league record and 15-4 overall record.
With the league title and the 15-4 overall finish, the Bears will head to the regional playoffs this weekend seeded ninth in the state RPI rankings out of 63 teams in the 4A division.
Rifle will travel to Frederick where they will first face Ponderosa, a 4A team that plays in a 5A league during the regular season.
Frederick will host Pueblo East in the other side of the four-team bracket. Two teams will move on to the final 16 state tournament the following weekend in Aurora. The four-team regional is a double-elimination format to pare the state field from 32 to 16.
Rifle will bring one of the top scoring teams in the state into the regional tournament having scored 130 runs over the last 10 games (13 runs per game average). The Bears have been led by a number of players offensively all season.
Juniors Kaitlyn Harris and Shaeley Arneson have provided much of the offensive punch this season. Arneson leads the team and league in home runs (5, 10th in state), batting average (.552, 27th in state), and RBIs (37, 5th in state). Her 37 RBIs is already a new school single season record for the program’s 20-plus year history. Along with that she also has 30 runs scored, five doubles, and eight stolen bases. Harris leads the team and league in slugging percentage (1.000, 20th in state and likely a new school record as the current record is .828) and fielding percentage (.972).
She also is second in runs scored (33, 14th in state), RBI’ (34, 12th in state), homeruns (4, 17th in state), and stolen bases (11, 2nd in league). She is second on the team and in the league with a .483 batting average. She also set a new school record with 12 doubles on the season.
Sophomore Delaney Phillips has contributed a lot to the team’s offensive success with her speed in the lead-off position. She broke the school record she set last year for stolen bases (24) earlier in the season and has recorded 41 stolen bases (3rd in state at 4A level, 4th overall for all levels) this year without being thrown out once.
She is first on the team and in the league in runs scored (38, 5th in state) along with second on the team and fourth in the league in on-base percentage (.568). She is third on the team and in the league for batting average (.475)
Adding to offensive barrage has been senior shortstop Peyton Caldwell. Caldwell is hitting .460 on the season with 18 RBIs, five doubles and four triples. Her four triples is currently tied for the school single season record. She also has a .514 on-base percentage and .666 slugging percentage.
Other key offensive contributors include junior Kaitlyn Jackson (.351 average, 19 RBIs, 4 home runs, .631 slugging percentage, and .471 on-base percentage), senior Claudia Abbott (.352 average, 16 RBIs, 13 walks, .486 on-base percentage, and 8 stolen bases), sophomore Hannah Bodrogi (.300 average, .440 on-base percentage, 16 runs, and 11 stolen bases), senior Sydney Scarrow (.327 average, .345 on-base percentage, 11 runs, and 10 RBIs), and junior Amanda Green (10 stolen bases).
Defensively the Bears have been led by their pitcher Jackson, who has pitched all but two of the innings for Rifle this year. She leads the league in wins (15, 2nd in the state and a new school record), strikeouts (131, 5th in state and new school record), and ERA (2.98, 16th in the state).
Jackson’s battery mate Harris has allowed only nine stolen bases all season with just three passed balls as the Bears’ catcher. To put that in perspective, Rifle has stolen 102 bases as a team this season.