Rifle takes the free passes, walks by Devils
GYPSUM — Go to the yard and you may see some things you’ve never seen before.
Eagle Valley softball issued 19 walks on Tuesday and turned a triple play in a 21-10 loss to visiting Rifle at the Gypsum Sports Complex.
And to think that the Bears trailed this one, 7-1 and 8-3, at two different points during the game.
“I’m pretty proud of them,” Bears coach Troy Phillips said. “We didn’t look too good in that first inning. We made some mistakes on batted balls. We’ve been working really hard in practice on executing. They didn’t give up. They trusted us to be patient at the plate and work some walks and get some hits.”
After the Devils rapped out seven runs in the first inning, the visitors could have been forgiven for being a little long in the face. But Eagle Valley’s pitching came undone with the free passes. Rifle was patient and that led to a serendipitous scoring sequence — five runs in the fifth, six in the sixth and seven in the seventh.
While the Bears were patient, they also got in their licks. Alexys Holder belted a two-run double in the fifth. Kaitlyn Harris plated two runs with a single in the sixth. In the seventh, Payton Phillips and Harris had back-to-back two-run doubles and Peyton Caldwell scored Harris with a smash of a single.
Rifle looked like it could pile on even more runs in the seventh. After putting up a seven-spot, the Bears still had the bases loaded and no one out. Mackyla Parsons scorched a liner to short, which Eagle Valley’s Caroline Paxon snared. She alertly threw to first to tag up the Bears runner there. Brooklyn Vargas stepped on the bag for out No. 2 and then fired home to catcher Regan Bossow to catch the Bears’ runner sneaking in for the triple play.
That was one of several good defensive plays the Devils recorded. Alexis Valdez had a great day at the hot corner and also helped finish off a double play in the second. But no team in softball or baseball can give up 19 free passes and come away with a win. (For the trivially inclined, the Yankees Lefty Gomez did walk 11 and still beat the then-St. Louis Browns, 9-0, on Aug. 1, 1941, but he’s in the Hall of Fame.)
“We’ve been struggling with starting off strong, so we’re going to take that improvement,” Eagle Valley coach Carrie Rodgers said. “We had some really good plays in the field. I know the pitchers are going to work on throwing strikes.”
It all started so merrily for the Devils. Paxson, Vargas, Kylie King, Madyson Callis and Valdez all had RBIs. Savana Vasquez ripped a two-run triple and the Devils led 7-1.
The Devils (2-9-1) will try to bounce back when they host Aspen on Thursday for Senior Day.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 970-748-2934, email@example.com and @cfreud.