RIFLE (9/3/20) — After a mercy-rule 11-1 opening game victory and a 10-run second-inning explosion, the 4A Rifle Lady Bears softball team seemed ready to cruise to a doubleheader sweep of the 3A Basalt Longhorns in non-league action Thursday. The Bears wound up winning the second game, 14-11, but it wasn’t easy. Basalt, which had won four of five Western Slope games prior to the twin bill at Rifle, knocked out freshman pitcher Emma Speakman with an 8-run eruption of its own in the third frame and twice tied the game before falling in seven innings.
A precursor of the Longhorn rally came in the last of the second when the Corey Bullock blasted a 3-2 pitch over the leftfield fence. Still, the 10-1 lead seemed safe until eight consecutive hitters reached base against Speakman, closing the gap to 10-8, causing Bears coach Troy Phillips to call on another freshman, Blayke Hostettler, who had thrown a five-inning, 3-hit complete game in the opener.
Hostettler yielded a run-scoring double to first-game loser Bella Meraz, before retiring the next three hitters. However, control problems in the fourth, featuring two walks, a hit batter, and a wild pitch enabled Basalt to tie the score at 10.
Basalt’s Grace Schrock, who survived the Bears’ 10-run, second inning, keyed by Speakman’s 2-run double and a 2-RBI single from Hailey Worton, along with two Longhorn errors, was succeeded by Maya Lindgren in the fifth.
Lindgren (2-2), who’d made several fine plays at shortstop, including a 6-6-3 doubleplay in the fourth to turn away a Rifle threat, struck out two in the fifth, but ran into trouble in the sixth. Worton, who had 4 hits and 4 RBIs in the doubleheader, led off with a hard hit liner to left.
Myia Valencia beat out a bunt single, but Worton was caught in a rundown between third and home by catcher Kiera Larson. After an error and wild pitch moved Valencia to third, Abigail Bonuales drove a line drive into the right-center gap. Graci Dietrich, one of three Glenwood Springs High School players on the Basalt squad, made a spectacular, sprinting, one-handed catch, but Valencia tagged and scored for an 11-10 lead.
Basalt fought back with singles from Lindgren and Larson and a misplay in the outfield allowed the tying run to score, bringing up a dramatic seventh inning finish.
Speakman, one of three Grand Valley players on the Rifle squad, came up with two outs and no one on base but ripped a grounder into right field, then stole second. Worton drove a single into right, scoring Speakman, and Valencia moved the Rifle sophomore slugger to second with her third hit of the game. Emma Poole, who had four hits in the opener, topped a dribbler toward third but Lindgren overthrew first, allowing two insurance runs to score.
With a three-run lead, Hostettler easily retired the Longhorns in order, finishing with two strikeouts, to earn her second victory of the day.
Rifle (3-4, 0-1 WSL) used a pair of five-run rallies in game one to support Hostettler’s 58-pitch outing. Two Basalt errors along with singles by Poole, Jackie Bustillos, and Logan Cox keyed the first-inning rally, yielding five unearned runs.
Three consecutive singles by Hostettler, Speakman, and Worton plated three runs in the third, before Jenna Power Smith robbed Valencia by catching her liner to right. No matter, as Poole’s single and a sacrifice fly by Bonuales capped the inning.
Ahead 10-1 in the bottom of the fifth, Valencia and Poole singled before a wild pitch by Larson in relief invoked the ten-run mercy rule.
Hostettler, now 4-3, pitched ten innings in the doubleheader, allowing 7 hits, walking three, striking out seven, and making 123 pitches. Worton and Valencia each had 4 hits and scored 4 runs in the doubledip with Worton driving in 4 runs. Speakman, Bonuales, and Bustillos had 3 hits, with Speakman and Bonuales scoring 3 and driving in 3 runs each. Poole was 5-for-9 with 3 RBIs.
Bullock led the Longhorns, going 3-for-6 in the twin bill. Dietrich, Lindgren, Larson, and Willow Stolley each collected two hits. On Saturday, Basalt (4-3) will challenge undefeated Montezuma-Cortez (7-0, 4-0 WSL), which swept Rifle in two games August 25, while the Bears play a non-league game at winless Aspen.
Listen to the games below. Due to technical problems, we only have a recording of the last couple innings of the second game.