Tight competition could lead to upsets in tourney | PostIndependent.com

Tight competition could lead to upsets in tourney

Phil Sandoval

RIFLE – Cindy Skinner sees this weekend’s Class 4A, District 7 girls’ softball tournament as “evenly matched.”

A quick glance at the final standings among the five participating teams proved the Rifle coach’s prediction is right.

Except for 0-8 Montezuma-Cortez, the remaining four teams league records are a game or two within each other. And, a look at the records, doesn’t really indicate how tight the regular season race was.

But Skinner knows if the Bears are not on top of their game, the newly-crowned pennant winners, are beatable.

Last week No. 4 Delta, which plays Cortez in Friday afternoon’s pigtail game, nailed Rifle with a 5-3 loss. The winner of Friday’s game plays the Bears at 10 a.m. on Saturday.

If Rifle wins their semifinal game of the single-elimination tournament, No. 2 Montrose or No. 3 Palisade will be waiting.

The inadvertent use of an ineligible player hurt the Indians’ chance of winning the WSL flag. The post-game ruling turned an earlier 5-4 win against Rifle into a loss.

In the late-September rematch at Rifle’s Deerfield Park, the Bears earned the pennant on a 12-6 victory.

But, a No. 2 seeding doesn’t insure a third game between the two teams will occur.

Palisade, under first-year coach and former Mesa State College star, Jamie Dunn, has enough talent to reach the championship game, but will have to reverse a current three-game losing streak to keep it’s season alive.

Both teams in the district championship game advance to next week’s 4A regional tournament at Olympia Park in Aurora.

Rifle ended the season in first place at 7-1. They are the No. 1 seed and have earned an automatic spot to one of Saturday’s two semifinal games at the Kronkright Softball Complex in Grand Junction.

“We finished on top, and that’s great,” Skinner said. “Now the work starts.”

Senior catcher Skyler Bell, who was listed on the Rocky Mountain News “Best of the Best” in preseason, and senior shortstop Brooke St. Pierre, named to the “Best of the Rest” list, supply much of the Bears’ offense. And pitcher Erica Graham has been stellar on the mound down the stretch.

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