RIFLE — The Rifle softball team won its fourth-straight Class 4A Western Slope League title on Tuesday night with a 15-5 victory over league rival Palisade.
As has been the case the entire season, the Bears' bats were on fire as eight different hitters each collected at least two hits in the game, including a 3-hit, 4-RBI performance by freshman first baseman Hailey Worton.
“We have had great hitting all the way through our line-up most of the season,” head coach Troy Phillips said. “It’s a great feeling to know that you don’t have any holes in your lineup. Whoever we put in the starting lineup seems to come through.”
With the win, Rifle moved to 9-2 overall on the season. In those 11 games the Bears have scored 137 runs for an almost 12.5 runs per game average.
“Going into this season there were a lot of people outside our current team who thought this would be a down year, but we believed we had a great team with team-first attitudes that would carry us a lot further than those people would have believed,” Phillips said. “I am just so blessed to get to coach a group of girls like we have this year with players who lead by example and who all care about each other.”
In Tuesday night’s game it was the Bulldogs who got on the board first in the top of the first, but Rifle answered with six runs in the bottom half of the inning.
Senior Delaney Phillips led off the inning with a line-drive single off the pitcher’s glove. After stealing second base, she advanced to third on Senior Hannah Bodrogi’s sacrifice bunt that ended with Bodrogi reaching first base safely when the first baseman dropped the throw.
Phillips then scored on an infield single by junior Abigail Bonuales. Bodrogi who had stolen second advanced to third on the hit.
Senior Zoey Loya hit a run-scoring single to left and she was then followed by a two-run double blasted to right field by Worton, narrowly missing her first high school homerun. Worton eventually scored on a wild pitch.
To close out the inning, sophomore Emma Poole lined a double to right field and scored on a single by freshman Alexa O’Donnell.
In the second inning the Bears tacked on another run when Phillips beat out a bunt single, stole second and third, and scored on a sacrifice fly by Bodrogi. The three stolen bases moved Phillips’ total to 24 for the season. Over her past three seasons she has stolen 106 bases and only been thrown out once.
After giving up two runs in the top of the third inning, Rifle responded with seven runs in the bottom of the inning to take a commanding lead.
Sophomore Kaylie Stark singled. Poole was hit by a pitch. Junior Raelynn Hampton singled, and then O’Donnell came through with a bases loaded single to score Stark.
Bodrogi forced in the second run with a walk. Bonuales singled in a run. Loya singled in a run, and then Worton knocked in two more runs with a single.
In the fifth, the Bears finished off the game with consecutive singles by Worton and Stark, setting up Poole’s walk-off double on a laser hit to left center.
At pitcher, Bodrogi went the distance, allowing only four hits and two walks, and one earned run. It was her seventh win of the season.
“Hannah has done a great job all season challenging hitters and not giving up very many walks,” Phillips said. “She, Zoey, and Delaney have been great senior leaders for this team.”
With a league championship already secured, the Bears will look to new goals in trying to match or beat last year’s school record 17 victories in a season and possibly a top-8 RPI ranking which would allow them to host a regional in Rifle. Rifle currently was sitting at eighth in the state in the RPI rankings going into Tuesday night’s game.