Mendoza blast puts Pride over Bandits, 2-1, in game one
Sulphur, La. — With eyes on the ball, Chicago’s Emily Friedman raced towards the left field foul pole, tracking a bomb off the bat of Florida’s Jessica Mendoza. With Kelly Kretschman on first, Friedman crashed through the outfield fence, attempting to grab the ball on her way down. Friedman couldn’t hold on though as the hit went for a 2-run home run, giving the Pride a 2-0 lead in the top of the fourth.
The Pride and Cat Osterman would hold tight, deflecting a number of Bandits scoring opportunities to squeak out the game one victory for Florida.
With No. 1 seed Chicago’s Stacy May on third base and two outs in the bottom of the first inning, Samantha Findlay stepped into the batters box to face off with USSSA’s Sarah Pauly. The Bandits scoring threat ended when Pauly forced Findlay to ground out to end the inning.
Chicago’s Eileen Canney stepped into the circle to square off against the No. 2 seed USSSA Florida Pride. Canney shut down the Pride offense, giving up just a walk in the first inning and going 1-2-3 in the second. Alissa Haber put Florida in the hit column with a lead off single to left field in the top of the third.
Haber reached as far as third base, but was left stranded as Canney buckled down to get two consecutive ground outs to end the top of the third. Through three innings, Canney faced 11 batters, giving up just one walk, one hit and sending one back to the bench with a strikeout.
After Florida’s Pauly set the Bandits down with her own 1-2-3 inning in the bottom of the third, Kelly Kretschman opened the top of the fourth with her second walk of the game against Canney.
With Kretschman on first and nobody out, Florida’s Jessica Mendoza blasted Canney’s pitch deep towards the left field wall. Chicago’s Emily Friedman raced to the gate, breaking through the fence by the foul pole, but could not come up with the grab. Mendoza’s home run put the Pride up 2-0 in the top of the fourth with nobody out.
Two outs and three batters later with USSSA’s Megan Willis on first, Canney ended the scoring with an up-the-middle grounder by Haber for the final out.
After a leadoff single by Jennie Finch in the bottom of the fifth, pinch runner Christine Knauer stole second base to put a runner in scoring position for the Bandits with no outs. Knauer moved to third just one batter later on an Angela Findlay ground out, putting a runner just 60 feet from home for Chicago.
Florida’s Cat Osterman held tight, getting two more outs to end the Chicago scoring threat.
In the bottom of the sixth, Chicago jumped on the scoreboard after Vicky Galindo came around to score on a throwing error by Cat Osterman. Galindo led off the inning with a double to right field, and her run brought the score to 2-1. Amber Patton reached second base safely on the throwing error. Patton would remain at second base as Osterman got Rachel Folden and Samantha Findlay out to end the inning.
Cat Osterman would hold tight, ending the game with the save in three innings pitched. She allowed one run, one hit, one walk and struck out five in the victory.
Eileen Canney finished the game with seven innings pitched, three hits allowed, two runs scored, two walks and one strike out. The winning pitcher, Sarah Pauly, pitched four innings for three hits, zero earned runs, and zero strikeouts.
Game two of the best-of-three game series will take place tomorrow at 2 p.m. The game is available online through MLB.com. The link to live game feeds is http://mlb.mlb.com/mlb/mediacenter/npf.jsp.
Notes: An emotional retirement ceremony was held before today’s game, honoring the career and contributions to National Pro Fastpitch and the sport of softball by Jennie Finch. Finch’s husband, Casey Daigle (Pitcher, Round Rock Express AAA) was born and reared in Sulphur, La.