(Photo, left: Monica Abbott of the Chicago Bandits – credit Dina Kwit)
This past weekend was another typical weekend in the NPF. Pitchers kept the scores low, but the hits still came. Over the weekend, three different hitters hit two home runs apiece, one player continued her torching pace on offense, and another player threw a two hitter only to see the victory slip away.
The first series of the weekend featured the Carolina Diamonds hosting the Chicago Bandits. Monica Abbott took the mound for the Bandits in the opener. The top three Diamonds’ hitters, Rachel Folden, GiOnna DiSalvatore and Kelsi Weseman, combined for all five of the teams hits. The trio went five for eight with one walk against the left-handed ace of the Bandits. This effort was not enough as Abbott shut down the League’s second best offense with a final score of 7-0. Abbott finished with no runs, five hits and eleven strike outs in a seven-inning shutout. Katie Burkhart took the loss in the circle for the Diamonds as she went seven innings giving up seven runs, six earned, on nine hits and five strikeouts.
In the second game of the series, Diamonds’ pitcher Morgan Melloh had a rough start as she gave up 7 runs, all earned, in 1.1 innings pitched. After scoring 7 runs, it appeared this would be enough to secure the win for the Bandits. However, GiOnna DiSalvatore hit a 2-run home run in the bottom of the 3rd inning followed by a Rachel Folden solo home run cutting the Bandits lead to 7-3. Folden added another run with a one out RBI single to make it 7-4 in the bottom of the 5th. In the bottom of the 7th, the Diamonds plated two more runs on a double and a fielder’s choice. The rally would come to a halt as the Bandits held on to win 7-6. Bandit pitcher Nikki Nemitz allowed a weekend high eleven hits, but kept the victory in tact as she went seven innings and recorded six strikeouts.
Rookie pitcher Angel Bunner provided another great performance for the Carolina Diamonds in the third game of the series. Bunner went seven innings allowing two runs, one earned, on six hits. She picked up her fourth win on the season. Five different Diamonds combined to hit six home runs. Kelsi Weseman was the first to notch her two home runs on the weekend as she hit a solo shot in the bottom of the 2nd inning and a 2-run shot in the bottom of the 4th inning. The two home runs were her only two hits in the game as Weseman went two for two with a walk and three RBIs. GiOnna DiSalvatore also collected her second home run of the weekend in the bottom of the 5th inning. The Diamonds picked up the win with a score of 10-2.
The final game of the series featured Katie Burkhart in what was a “Hart-breaker” in extra innings. The game would go eight innings and the Diamonds defensive miscues would prove costly. In the top of the 8th, Burkhart issued a walk to Bandits’ catcher Shannon Doepking. The next batter reached on an error by second baseman Natalie Villarreal that allowed Doepking to move to second. Facing the third batter in the inning, Burkhart’s errant throw to 1st base proved costly as it allowed Doepking to score from second and put the Bandits ahead 1-0. Two batters later, another Bandit scored on a fielder’s choice and this would be all the Bandits would need to secure the win. Bandits Nikki Nemitz threw the first four frames of the game as Monica Abbott would come in for the final four. Abbott allowed no runs on 2 hits in her four innings of work earning her the win. It was a heartbreaking loss for Burkhart as she allowed just 2 hits, 2 runs, 1 earned, two walks and three strikeouts.
In the second series of the weekend, the USSSA Florida Pride looked to keep their position atop the League standings while taking on the Akron Racers. In game one, Cat Osterman went seven innings allowing just one earned run on three hits, 12 strikeouts and six walks in a 9-1 Pride victory. The lone Racers’ run came on two of the three hits given up by Osterman. Sharonda McDonald started the 3rd inning with a double as Brianna Hesson delivered a single that scored McDonald from second. After the Pride had already scored two runs in the bottom of the 1st, the Racers cut the lead to 2-1. This would not stand however as Osterman did not allow another hit the remainder of the game. The Pride were led by Ashley Charters who went two for three with a double and a triple, five RBIs, and a run scored. Natasha Watley and Jessica Mendoza joined Charters as Watley went three for four with one RBI, a run scored and Mendoza was two for three with an RBI, two runs scored respectively.
Pride pitcher Sarah Pauly threw a gem in the second game of the series as she went seven innings and allowed one earned run on five hits with a walk and seven strikeouts. On the other side of the field, Racer pitcher Lisa Norris also threw well going six innings and allowing four runs, all earned, on six hits with two walks and three strikeouts. The final score was 4-1 as Sam Marder provided the only Racers’ run on a solo home run in the top of the 7th inning.
The third game of the series featured Danielle Lawrie in the circle for the USSSA Florida Pride. Lawrie continued the Pride’s weekend of great pitching by throwing seven innings and allowing only two runs, none earned, on six hits, four strikeouts and no walks. The Pride took game three of the series with a score of 6-2.
The final game of the Pride vs. Racers series featured rookie pitchers Hillary Bach and Brittany Mack. Bach would win this duel as she went seven innings giving up just one earned run on six hits, five strikeouts and no walks in the 5-1 Racers win. Losing pitcher Brittany Mack allowed four runs, two earned, in 5.1 innings of work before Cat Osterman came in to finish the game. Sam Marder carried the Racers as she went three for four including her second home run on the weekend with 2 RBIs and a run scored.
Another performance worth noting was provided by the leading hitter in the NPF, Caitlin Lowe. Lowe has been on a tear lately and shows no signs of slowing down. She went two for three to add to her weekend total of seven for twelve, two walks and four runs scored. Lowe has been one of the toughest outs in the NPF this season.
This weekend the Bandits will travel to Firestone Stadium in Akron, Ohio to take on the Racers in a four game set. The USSSA Florida Pride will travel to Five County Stadium in Zebulon, NC to face the Carolina Diamonds for two games, then the series shifts to Fieldcrest Cannon Stadium in Kannapolis, NC for the final two games of the series. 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.
Be sure to not miss out on the action of the 2012 Championship Series! The play will begin on August 23 and the champion will be crowned on August 26. All games will be played at the Ballpark at Rosemont located in Rosemont, IL. Tickets are available at www.championship.profastpitch.com or by calling 615-232-2900. You can also view live stats of the Championship Series on www.pointstreak.com.