|The National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) Championship Series hosted in Sulphur, La. began tonight with Game 1 between the No. 2 USSSA Florida Pride (1-0) and No. 3 Akron Racers (0-1). Despite a first inning 1-0 lead, the Racers failed to hold on losing 3-2.
The Racers had 2010 NPF Pitcher of the Year, Lisa Norris (0-1), in the pitcher’s circle tonight. Norris pitched a complete game, allowing three runs on four hits in a losing effort. The Pride mixed things up in the pitcher’s circle, starting the game with Danielle Lawrie (1-0) recording the win, with help in relief from Sarah Pauly, and Cat Osterman (SV 1) who came in to record the three-out save.
The Racers saw early success with their bats with Jamie Juarez hitting in Lisa Modglin to take an early 1-0 lead in the first inning. Taking the slim lead into the bottom of the third, with runners on the corners Florida’s Jessica Mendoza hit an opposite field three-run homerun to put the Pride up 3-1 after three innings of play. On the Mendoza bomb, Akron’s Crystl Bustos gave it her all trying to track down the ball and rob Mendoza of the 3 RBI homerun, but barrelled through the outfield fence.
Despite a leadoff homerun in the top of the fourth from Akron’s Courtney Bures to bring the Pride’s lead to only one, the Pride were able to hold on for the Game 1 win, behind outstanding pitching from Sarah Pauly and Cat Osterman.
The Pride look to sweep the three-game series and move onto the Championship round Friday afternoon against the Akron Racers.
Written By: Adam Gierhart
Chicago Bandits Take Game 2 from the Tennessee Diamonds, 2-0
Written By: Adam Gierhart
“We came here to win the Championship,” said Chicago Bandits third baseman and 2010 NPF Most Valuable Player, Stacy May. That is the mission for all four NPF teams competing in the Championship Series in Sulphur, La.
Game One between the Chicago Bandits (1-0) and the Tennessee Diamonds (0-1) featured a marquee pitching duel between the Bandits’ Jennie Finch (1-0) and the Diamonds’ Monica Abbott (0-1). It was Finch’s Bandits that left the field victorious and one win away from reaching the Championship Finals, as Finch threw a near perfect game allowing only one hit and two walks en route to a 2-0 victory.
It wasn’t until the third inning did the crowd in Sulphur see a tick on the scoreboard as Stacy May took a Monica Abbott change-up to deep centerfield for a 1-0 lead. Lightning struck twice when Samantha Findlay took a change-up from Abbott deep to left center field. “I was trying to keep them off balance,” says Abbott, “but I threw two change-ups that went [for homeruns]. I play to win. Unfortunately it didn’t go our way today.”
Finch’s no hitter attempt was quickly called to a halt in the sixth inning with two outs when a Shanel Scott bunt went for an infield single on a controversial call at first base. Finch shook off the call and closed out the final four outs to put the Diamonds behind in the series 0-1. “We got it done tonight. We hope to get it done tomorrow too,” says Finch.
The Diamonds hope to “get it done tomorrow” as well. “We’re very familiar with their pitching staff,” says Diamonds’ coach Ernie Reynolds, and the Diamonds have played well against the Bandits as of late, recently taking three of five from the Bandits at their home field in Elgin, Ill.
That was then and this is now. The Bandits lead the series 1-0 and look to sweep the best-of-three game series tomorrow at 6:05 p.m.