Vail Valley preps: Rifle softball outslugs Devils
RIFLE – With a young team, Rifle softball coach Cindy Skinner’s goals for 2010 were modest. She knew it’d be a building year, a stepping stone to better seasons.On Tuesday, those rebuilding efforts paid off in the Bears’ first victory, a 19-8 mercy-ruler at the hands of visiting Eagle Valley.”You know our goal,” Skinner said. “It’s to build, to work. I’m just really proud of the improvements the girls have made, that they’re working with us and listening to us. It’s started to show in our game.”In particular, it showed in the fourth and fifth innings. Regularly making solid contact and capitalizing on a number of Eagle Valley errors, Rifle rallied for a combined 14 runs in the frames, bringing the game to an early end.The Bears had trailed, 8-5, going into the bottom half of the fourth. But a six-run fourth featuring four hits – including a two-run single off the bat of Alie Ehlers and a bloop single by Shantel Leyba that plated two runs – sent Rifle surging ahead.That momentum carried into a six-hit, eight-run fifth inning highlighted by a two-run Leyba single and a walk-off, two-run line single into left field by Brittany Neuroth.Leyba paced the Bears (1-6) at the plate, going 3 for 4 with five RBIs. Leadoff hitter Cortney Cordova also went 3 for 4. Emma Speer finished with two hits and four runs and Nueroth, Vanessa Herrera, Ehlers and Norisa Navratil all had a hit apiece.For the first time all season, hits consistently found holes for Rifle.”They’ve made contact, but it hasn’t always gone where somebody can’t get it,” Skinner said. “A lot of their hits go right at people, so they’ve been making the contact. They need to keep making contact and games like this will happen. … We’ve been working a lot on our hitting, staying on top of the ball and not just popping it up. They’re listening. That’s a good thing.”Amanda Morgan, Megan Osteen and Elizabeth Schwaiger each had two hits for the Devils, who plated three runs in both the second and third innings before pushing two across in the fourth.It all unraveled from there.”Defensively, we played terrible,” said Eagle Valley coach Bill Beasley, whose team dropped to 2-13 overall. “I don’t have much to say. … I’m totally disappointed in the way we played.”Rifle opens 3A Slope play against visiting Grand Valley at 5 p.m. on Thursday. Eagle Valley kicks off 4A Slope play at home against Palisade next Tuesday.