Nikki Nemitz from the Chicago Bandits, photo by Dina Kwit
How do you follow up an eighteen home run weekend? You knock seventeen long balls out. This week around National Pro Fastpitch seemed to be much like the last except with a more regular feel to it. Pitching around the league did surrender seventeen more home runs, but it seemed to be less of a scoring fest than one would think. Pitchers were on display again this week as things were finally settled down a bit. Last week we saw the second super star match-up between 2011 Co-Pitchers of the Year Cat Osterman and Monica Abbott, a game that lived up to the pitchers duel it was. Also on another great pitching match-up on the weekend, the Diamonds and Racers gave a rollercoaster nine-inning affair, that saw the Diamonds on the winning side of a series sweep.
The week started with a highly anticipated series between the league leading Chicago Bandits hosting and the USSSA Florida Pride. The first match-up between the two teams put Nikki Nemitz against Danielle Lawrie. Nemitz started the week off with the first gem going a full seven giving up a single earned run on five hits with four strikeouts in the 8-2 Bandits win. Lawrie made it through five innings in decent shape, giving up four runs through the first five. But in the troublesome 6th inning, she surrendered two runs and exited the game leaving the bases loaded. Reliever, Sarah Pauly yielded two more runs in the jam, giving Lawrie an eight run total on the day with five innings pitched, five earned runs and ten hits. Kristen Butler continued her tear, as she went two for three with a run scored and one RBI on yet another home run. The second game of the series on the 29th provided the pitching match-up of the week. Monica Abbott and Cat Osterman had great performances giving up one and three hits respectively. The bats for Abbott and the Bandits came through in the 3rd as Amber Patton connected on an Osterman pitch and sent it for a double, scoring Vicky Galindo for the game’s only run. Abbott finished with seven innings pitched, no earned runs on only one hit (for the second time this season) and ten strikeouts. Osterman finished with six innings pitched giving up one earned run on three hits with nine strikeouts.
The third game of the series on the 30th was the highest scoring game of the week. Bats were ablaze as the Bandits picked up ten more hits. Megan Wiggins pitched in six RBI’s for the Bandits on two, 3-run home runs going two for three on the day. Kristen Butler would not finish the week quietly as she launched a three run home run on her only hit of the day. The two would combine for nine of the Bandits’ ten final runs in the game, adding an RBI double from pitcher Nikki Nemitz. The Pride had a strike of their own as they banded together 2-run innings in the 4th, 6th, and 7th, but Bandit rookie pitcher Meagan Denny-White stayed resilient. Going a full seven innings, giving up seven runs, five earned, on nine hits with seven strikeouts in the 10-7 Bandits victory. The final game of the series on Sunday was nothing out of the ordinary as Nikki Nemitz used an early 3-0 lead after two innings to go five innings pitched before being relieved by Moncia Abbott. Nemitz surrendered five hits and only gave up one earned run through five before Abbott would come in to relieve. Abbott went two final innings with one hit and two strikeouts for the save. Pride rookie pitcher Brittany Mack was knocked early from the game opening the door for Cat Osterman to come in for relief. Osterman finished with 4.1 innings pitched, no runs, two hits and four strikeouts in the 3-1 loss. The Bandits took the series sweep and won their 6th straight and 9th of their last ten.
The second series on the week would be a break-through for the Carolina Diamonds as they swept the series from the Akron Racers. The first game of the series was chocked full of excitement for a full seven innings and two extra’s. The Racers carried a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the 7th only to see the Diamonds tie the game on a Cailtin Lever solo home run that sent the game into extra innings. The Racers again had a lead in the top of the 9th only to see it disappear yet again with a Jami Lobpries solo home run to tie the game. Amanda Kamekona advanced to 1st on an error and move over to second on a Caitlin Lever single, setting the stage for GiOnna DiSalvatore. DiSalvatore put a ball in play sending Kamekona home on a walk-off 9th inning RBI single. Katie Burkhart pitched all nine innings for the Diamonds and got the win as she gave up four runs, three earned, on twelve hits and eleven strikeouts for the 5-4 win. The second game of the series put “Rookie Watch” pitchers against each other as the Diamonds’ Angel Bunner and the Racers’ Hillary Bach would face off. This time, Bunner would finally be on the winning side of a match-up giving her the first win in her professional career. Bunner went a full seven giving up two runs, one earned, on five hits with three strikeouts. Bach was hit early as she left after three innings giving up five runs, four earned, on eight hits. Amanda Locke of the Diamonds would ensure the 5-2 victory going two for two with two RBI’s including a solo home run.
The third game of the series on Sunday saw the Diamonds get the victory, but not before using four different pitchers. The story of the game was the three home runs hit by Diamond batters Rachel Folden, Kelsi Weseman and Bianca Mejia, who all went yard to help the Diamonds come from behind and beat the Racers in dramatic fashion yet again. The Racers saw a 3-0 lead shrink in the bottom of the 5th as Folden and Weseman both hit solo home runs shrinking the Racers’ lead to 3-2. With a runner on base in the bottom of the 7th, Bianca Mejia came up to bat with a chance to walk off, and she would deliver. Mejia used her only hit in the game to send a two run home run flying to secure the 4-3 Diamonds victory. The series wrapped up Monday and saw the Diamonds tried for their first series sweep of the season and for the Carolina franchise. Katie Burkhart, fresh off a nine inning outing on Friday, tried to seal the sweep for the Diamonds. Burkhart faced little resistance in reaching this pivotal point. She finished with a full 7 innings pitched giving up only one earned run on three hits and nine strikeouts. Racers’ pitcher Kristina Thorson almost had an equal day in the circle to Burkhart. However, after making it through the day only surrendering a two run home run to Diamonds’ GiOnna DiSalvatore in the bottom of the 1st, Thorson settled down the rest of the game until the bottom of the 6th. In the 6th, Thorson and the Racers would unravel. Thorson proceeded to give up two singles to Diamonds’ Kelsi Weseman and Angeline Quiocho and a walk to Jami Lobpries. With the bases loaded, Natalie Villarreal connected for a double that cleared the bases and started a seven run 6th inning which ended the night for Thorson. Diamonds’ Amanda Locke and Amanda Kamekona would also connect for RBI hits off of Racers’ relief pitchers to help preserve the 9-1 Diamond win.
Next week’s action will continue as we celebrate America’s birthday. The Akron Racers will travel to Chicago for a four game set against the Bandits Thursday-Sunday. The Carolina Diamonds will travel to Baton Rouge, Louisiana as the USSSA Florida Pride will host the series at Tiger Stadium, home of the LSU Tigers Friday-Sunday. Catch all the action streamed live on the website or on the new National Pro Fastpitch app available in the iTunes App store and the Google Play store, or follow live stats at Pointstreak.com.