Photo: Megan Wiggins of the Chicago Bandits (by Dina Kwit)
via release: With only two weeks left before the 2012 NPF Championship Series, teams in the NPF held nothing back over the past weekend. Between the two series, there were twenty-two home runs hit on the weekend, seventeen of which came in one series. To break it down further, of the seventeen home runs hit in the single series, ten of them came from just four players. Offense was definitely on display, however, pitching was only exceptional for one team in the NPF for the weekend. The USSSA Florida Pride pitching staff combined to surrender only five runs, two shutouts, a one run game, and a four run affair providing one of the best overall staff performances this year.
The Chicago Bandits visited Firestone Stadium in Akron, Ohio over the weekend to face the Racers in a four game series. This series was nothing short of a home run derby. In game one, the Bandits jumped out early scoring one run in the 1st inning and four more in the 2nd on hits from Tammy Williams, Meagan Wiggins and Kristen Butler. Wiggins had a phenomenal series as game one was just a glimpse of what was to come as she finished the game going three for four including a 6th inning solo home run, two RBI’s, and two runs scored. Kristen Butler and Tammy Williams also had a great game as they both went two for three. Butler accounted for three RBI’s as Williams accounted for two more, including a solo home run and two runs scored. Monica Abbott was in the circle for the Bandits and had a no hitter through five innings. Abbott gave up one run on three hits, a walk and nine strikeouts in 6.2 innings work. Michele Moses came into the game briefly to pitch but gave up three walks and 2 earned runs in her .1 innings of work. Abbott returned to the mound to close it out and seal the Bandits opening series win 7-3.
The second game of the series featured five home runs from three different players. Megan Wiggins started the game off with a 2-run home run in the top of the 1st inning, her second on the weekend. The Racers then answered with runs from Sharonda McDonald and Lisa Modglin as well as a solo home run from Nicole Pauly to take the early lead 3-2. This exchange of runs would last throughout the game. Singles from Rhea Taylor and Vicky Galindo added three more runs for the Bandits in the 2nd inning. The Racers answered with four runs in the bottom of the 3rd. Nicole Pauly launched her second home run of the game, this time a 2-run homerun that tied the game at 5. Three batters later, Alicia Herron followed suit with a 2-run shot of her own making it 7-5 Racers after three innings of play. Megan Wiggins brought the Bandits one run closer in the 4th inning when she hit her second home run of the game and third on the weekend. With the score 7-6 Racers in the 6th, the Bandits took the lead back on RBI singles from Alisa Goler and Tammy Williams. The Bandits did not look back as they went on to score six more runs in the 7th and won the game with a final score of 14-8. Other notes in the game, Monica Abbott entered the game in the 6th as the closer allowing just one run on two hits and a strikeout.
How do you follow up a game that consisted of twenty-two runs scored, twenty-four hits and five home runs? Well, score thirty runs on twenty-six hits and seven home runs.
Game three of the series on Sunday featured seven different pitchers from the two teams. The Bandits got the game started with four runs in the top of the 1st however, the Racers answered with home runs by Lisa Modglin and Sam Marder. Megan Wiggins came through again for the Bandits as she hit her fourth home run of the series. The grand slam by Wiggins gave the Bandits a seven run total in the 3rd inning. Shannon Doepking added a 3-run home run in the 4th as well. The Racers went on to get home runs from Aja Paculba, Alicia Herron, and a grand slam from Sam Marder, her second homer in the game and the series, but it was not enough as the Bandits won the slugfest 17-13.
The final game of the series was more relaxed as the Bandits and Racers faced off in the second game of a Sunday double header. Monica Abbott took the circle and threw another gem in her fourth appearance on the weekend. Abbott finished the game throwing a 7-inning shutout with one walk and eight strikeouts in the Bandits’ 8-0 victory. The Bandits added home runs from Brittany Cervantes, Amanda Williams and Alisa Goler to bring the weekend tally to nine home runs as the Racers finished the series with eight home runs as a team.
The Carolina Diamonds hosted the USSSA Florida Pride in a four game series that would be on the opposite end of the spectrum than the Racers/Bandits series. The Pride’s combined team ERA was just 1.21 for the entire weekend. In the first game of the series on Thursday, Osterman gave the Pride a seven inning, two hit, shut out win. Osterman recorded ten strikeouts with just two walks in the outing. Natasha Watley, Caitlin Lowe and Kristyn Sandberg came through for the Pride by getting on base multiple times. Watley went two for three with a walk and three runs scored, Lowe went three for four with three runs scored, and Sandberg went one for two with two walks, three RBI’s and three runs scored. The trio combined to score all nine of the Pride’s runs in the 9-0 victory.
Sarah Pauly gave the Pride another great outing in game two of the series on Friday. Pauly went seven innings giving up only five hits while adding nine strikeouts to her totals in the shutout victory. The Pride were led by Francesca Enea who went two for three that included a 3-run home run, a single, a walk and 4 RBI’s. Charlotte Morgan added another 3-run home run in the top of the 5th while Jessica Mendoza also drove in a run and made it an 8-0 win for the Pride. The Diamonds could not get much going in the game with the exception of Rachel Folden who managed to go two for two against Pauly, both singles.
The theme of “near no hit” pitching continued for the Pride in game three as veteran Danielle Lawrie took the circle on Saturday. Lawrie went seven innings and gave up one earned run on three hits, two walks and recorded nine strikeouts. Across the mound, Diamonds pitcher Katie Burkhart went seven innings as well. Burkhart gave up four runs, two earned, on eight hits, eleven strikeouts and three walks. Amanda Kamekona for the Diamonds finally broke through in the bottom of the 4th as GiOnna DiSalvatore reached on a single, Rachel Folden reached on a hit by pitch, and Kelsi Weseman drew a walk. Kamekona hit into a fielder’s choice that allowed DiSalvatore to score the team’s first run of the series. This would not be enough however as the Pride scored three in the top of the 6th on a Natasha Watley single. Watley came around to score as well on an error by the Diamond’s defense as the Pride got the 4-1 win.
The final game of the series was a different story as both teams used six different pitchers in total. The Pride struck first as Francesca Enea was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, giving the Pride a 1-0 lead until the bottom of the 2nd. Angeline Quiocho launched a 2-run home run to give the Diamonds a 2-1 lead. The Pride came back in the top of the 5th inning with a Jessica Mendoza single to score Jenn Salling, and a Kelly Kretschman single to score Mendoza. The Pride finished the inning with three runs making it 4-2 Pride. In the bottom half of the 5th inning, GiOnna DiSalvatore scored on a single from rookie catcher Amy Hooks to bring the Diamonds within one. In the bottom of the 7th with two outs, Bianca Mejia hit a solo home run to tie the game at four and send the game into extra innings. Francesca Enea of the Pride needed only one more inning to decide the game. Enea hit her second home run of the series, a 2-run home run in the top of the 8th inning to give the Pride the lead. Veteran Cat Osterman shut down the Diamonds one more time to secure the 6-4 Pride victory. Rookie pitcher Brittany Mack started the game for the Pride. Through 4 innings of work, Mack gave up three runs, two earned, on two hits with three walks and five strikeouts. Veteran Cat Osterman came in to finish the game going the final four innings giving up one earned run on three hits while striking out seven.
National Pro Fastpitch regular season comes to a close this week as the Carolina Diamonds travel to the Ball Park at Rosemont to take on the Chicago Bandits for a four game series starting Wednesday and finishing on Saturday. The USSSA Florida Pride will travel to Firestone Stadium in Akron, Ohio as the Racers try to improve their position for the Championship Series next weekend. The Racers and Pride series starts Thursday and concludes on Sunday. Tune into live action by downloading the NPF Mobile App for Apple and Droid devices. Download the app at the Apple App Store or the Google Play Store and watch every game streamed live to your mobile device. You can also catch streamed games at www.profastpitch.com.
There is also just one week of action left before the Championship Series in Rosemont, Illinois at the Ball Park at Rosemont. The 2012 Championship Series will begin on August 23 and conclude with a team being crowned the Cowles Cup Champions on August 26. The bracket layout consist of a best of 3 series between the number 1 seed and the number 4 seed as well as the number 2 seed and the number 3 seed facing off. The winners of the series will face off in a best of 3 Final series starting on Saturday night, with the champion being crowned on Sunday.
The Series will not be streamed live on the NPF website or on mobile apps, but you can tune into all the action from every game by following National Pro Fastpitch on Twitter at @profastpitch or on Facebook at National Pro Fastpitch.
You can also stay up to date with every pitch of every game by following the action on live game scoring with Pointstreak Sports Technologies at www.pointstreak.com
All games in the Final Series will be live on ESPN3 with the final game live on ESPN2.
For full game schedule and details check out www.championship.profastpitch.com