Wiig double seals win for Rifle
GRAND JUNCTION – There was not a lot of joy in Rifle’s dugout after Friday’s 6-5 win over Palisade. Instead, the primary emotion that showed in the eyes of the Bear softball team was one of relief.
Kari Wiig’s seventh inning, game-winning, RBI-double removed the pain of Rifle squandering a five-run lead, when the senior infielder broke a 5-5 tie in the bottom of the seventh inning.
“I was kind of surprised, because I thought it was going to go foul,” Wiig said of her line shot down the third-base line that scored Brooke St. Pierre for the win.
While the game had no bearing on the standings, the extra-base hit allowed Rifle (7-1,14-5) to head into this week’s district tournament on a positive note.
A 12-6 win over Montrose earlier in the week gave Rifle the Western Slope League pennant and the No. 1 seed at districts, but coach Cindy Skinner wasn’t about to let her team play soft.
Aggressive baserunning allowed Rifle to acquire it’s big lead.
Skylar Bell scored the game’s first run when she broke home from third base on an infield groundout. The catcher led off the second inning with a double and advanced to third on Erica Graham’s grounder to third to set up the run.
Wiig tapped the ball back to the mound for the inning’s second out, but Palisade (4-4, 9-7) first baseman Rachel White didn’t anticipate Bell’s dash to the plate.
White’s nonchalant attitude after making the putout earned the Bears a 1-0 lead, which they added to in the third.
Brooke St. Pierre’s charitably-scored double, on an obvious missed fly ball by Palisade center fielder Valerie Cary was the key blow of Rifle’s four-run rally. The misplay allowed Jenny Hughes, who had singled, and Kristina Dahlin to score.
Bell added her second-RBI hit in as many at-bats for the third run. Graham followed with an RBI-single.
With plenty of time left, Palisade kept chipping away at Rifle’s lead.
The Bears knocked off two runs in the home half of third, another run in the fourth, and forced a 5-5 tie in the fifth.
Five Bear errors, along with extra base hits by Kelsey Harrington (a double), and Ashley Tuttle (triple) contributed to the Bulldog comeback.
Both teams went through a scoreless sixth inning before Wiig saved the day.
“I had two strikes on me, but I wasn’t going to let (Palisade pitcher) Dayna (Martin) strike me out,” said Wiig of the at-bat. “I just hit (the ball) with all my might and there it went.”
Now the Bears can shift it’s attention to the tournament.
By earning the No. 1 seed, the Bears play the winner of Friday’s pigtail game between Delta and Montezuma-Cortez, the No. 4 and 5 seeds, at 10 a.m. Saturday in one of two semifinal games at the Kronkright Softball Complex in Grand Junction.
The other semifinal pits No. 2 Montrose against No. 3 Palisade. The semifinal winners play for the district championship Saturday afternoon.
Both the district champion and runner-up advance to the Class 4A regional tournament the following week.
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Down 14-7 with less than 11 minutes left in regulation, Rifle head coach Todd Casebier decided it was time to deviate from his ground-and-pound offense for a bit of an aerial attack.