Rifle Bears down Eagle Valley Devils softball in league opener
GYPSUM — Rifle’s Kaitlyn Jackson scattered five hits while going the distance as the visiting Bears defeated Eagle Valley softball, 11-2, on Tuesday at the Gypsum Sports Complex.
“I just had to focus on my pitches and make sure I could pound the zone,” Jackson said. “My defense made plays.”
Rifle (1-0) scored six of its 11 runs with two outs in an inning, while Eagle Valley made some base-running mistakes, resulting in two key double plays.
The Bears took a 4-1 lead in the top half of the third inning when Kaitlyn Harris ripped a two-run single and Shaeley Arneson followed with another RBI knock. Arneson went 4-for-5 with 3 runs batted in.
Eagle Valley (0-1 in the 4A Slope and 1-3 overall) got on the board in the bottom of the second with a Caroline Paxson run. Arianna Pena also drove in a run in the fifth.
The Devils could have had more, but ran themselves into a double play, making two outs at home.
“I thought there was a ton of effort out there,” Devils skipper Jason Buvala said. “The hustle plays on defense were phenomenal. We hit the ball well. We got on base. We were moving girls around. We just couldn’t finish. There definitely were some mental mistakes, which hurt us.”
Another double play in the bottom of the seventh snuffed out any chance of a comeback for Eagle Valley.
Rifle benefited from two-out lightning, scoring its last six runs with two outs already recorded in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings.
“I like the way our girls hit, especially in pressure situations with two outs,” Bears manager Troy Phillips said. “We had some clutch hits down the line. We struggled a little bit in our scrimmages against some good pitching. We haven’t had a lot of time, but they’re making adjustments.”
Rifle won the 4A Slope last year, but the team’s only loss in league play came at the hands of the Devils. Eagle Valley, Rifle and Palisade meet each other four times this fall.
Toward that end, the Devils play Palisade on Saturday at Colorado Mesa University, while the Bears are at Montrose on Friday.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.