Rifle wins fourth-straight league softball championship
RIFLE, Colorado – No matter who comes or who goes, the end result never varies.For the fourth time in as many seasons, Rifle is the 4A Western Slope League softball champion.The Bears, a young team that started the year short on varsity-seasoned talent, clinched the title with an 11-1 win over Delta at Deerfield Park on Tuesday.”We lost a lot of experience,” said fourth-year coach Cindy Skinner, who saw cornerstone players like Megan McWilliams, Chelsea Webb, Marissa Wilkins, Tamara Kaczmarek and Alissa Skinner graduate in May. “We knew this would be a rebuilding year, but give the girls credit. It’s a great team. The girls have good character.”Talk about a rapid rebuild. Tuesday’s six-inning victory, which featured a three-hit, 12-strikeout pitching performance from Alisha Rodebaugh, pushed Rifle to 14-4 overall and to 7-0 in league.With one game remaining at Palisade on Thursday, the Bears are beyond reach of the tailing pack.”You can tell these girls love the game, absolutely,” Skinner said. “We have girls coming from Meeker, Coal Ridge, Grand Valley.”Rodebaugh’s one of those dedicated players. The sophomore makes the haul from Meeker for practices and games. And the move-in from California thoroughly confounded Delta’s hitters on Thursday, striking out the side in the first and fifth innings and whiffing two batters apiece in the third and fourth.Rodebaugh, now 11-4 on the season, did all that with a sore rib.She, like her teammates, isn’t surprised to see the Bears’ success. It didn’t take long for the team, which has a number of players from schools without softball programs, to jell.”We just started when we won our first game,” Rodebaugh said. “From there, it was all good.”The young pitcher had plenty of help from her offense on Tuesday. Senior Kelsey Pyle finished the game with three hits in five trips to the plate, including an RBI double to right-center field in the fifth inning and a grounder that drove in the run putting the mercy rule into effect.Makayla Wilkins finished with two hits and an RBI. Samantha Young collected two hits and Cortney Cordova, Tori Fazzi, Ciara Euler and Tasha Ehlers all finished with one hit.Delta, which got hits from Maria Mendoza, Brittany Conger and Jessica Easter, fell to 10-8 overall and to 5-2 in the 4A WSL.
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