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Bandits take series opener from Force

ELGIN, IL - With head coach Micky Dean coaching a softball camp at Radford University, the Chicago Bandits put together a near flawless game plan to top the National Pro Fastpitch leading Philadelphia Force and did something no other team had done in 2008: winning against Megan Gibson.
 
The Bandits scored all their runs on two home runs and Kristina Thorson pitched a complete game allowing three hits to lead Chicago to a 3-1 win over the Force Wednesday night at the Judson Sports Complex in National Pro Fastpitch play. It was Megan Gibson's (6-1) first loss of the season. She pitched a complete game for the Force allowing five hits while striking out six and walking three.
 
"It's still about the players, players execute, it doesn't matter who is in the dugout," Bandits assistant coach Craig Nicholson said. "It's big to get the first game of the series, hopefully we can continue the momentum. We got some timely hitting. We gave up three hits but we only had five hits."
 
After Aileen Morales hustled her way on base with an infield single to the shortstop, Stacy May brought her home with her fifth home run of the season that cleared the left field wall, giving the Chicago Bandits (14-11) a 2-0 lead in the third inning. In the fifth inning, Amanda Freed added a solo shot to left field, increasing the Bandits' lead to 3-0.
 
"[Gibson] had been mixing up her pitched all night," May said. "At that particular at bat [May's home run] she left it too low for a 2-0 pitch."
 
Kristina Thorson (4-5), who was playing her first game against her former team, frustrated Philadelphia's (17-8) hitters all night. Kellie Wilkerson was the first Force player to get a hit, a single in the fourth inning and did not give up another one until the sixth inning. In that inning Clare Burnum scored on a wild pitch from third base after getting on base with a single that closed Chicago's lead to 3-1.
 
"I had a lot of adrenaline and really had to calm myself down," Thorson said. She pitched a complete game with three hits and two strikeouts. "I still have a lot of good friends from Philadelphia and had a lot of pent up energy and I knew the hitters."
 
In the top of the seventh inning, Megan Gibson led off the final inning with an easy grounder to May and Savanna Long struck out and Freed made a spectacular snag, grabbing a foul ball that barely stayed in play down the third base line to end the game.
 
The Bandits loaded the bases in the fourth inning, with Nicole Trimboli and Morales were both hit by Megan Gibson pitches and in between, Laura Harms singled. With two outs May came up to bat but grounded to the second baseman after working the count full.
 
Notes: Bandits head coach Micky Dean was at camp at Radford University in Virginia and Thomas Macera and Craig Nicholson were in charge for Chicago…Cindy Robison, a Iraq War veteran who suffered brain injuries in a roadside bomb, came all the way from New Virginia, Iowa throw out the first pitch
 
The Chicago Bandits and Philadelphia Force will return for Game Two of the series on Thursday at 7:05 p.m. at the Judson Sports Complex and will be broadcast live on Comcast SportsNet.