NPF Season Openers Reveal Equal Competition
“West Texas Dual on the Diamond” was one of two opening series of the 2010 National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) season held at the Rocky Johnson Field on the Texas Tech University campus. This series included two of the four professional teams: the USSSA Pride and the Chicago Bandits. It was a dog fight for both teams as they each entered the final game with a 2-2 series record.
Game one of the series was dominated by the Pride. USSSA hit three different Bandits pitchers tallying 16 runs on 14 hits. The Bandits only crossed three on 7 hits.
It was a closer battle during game two as Rachel Folden led the Bandits to a 5-2 victory by recording two homeruns in two consecutive at-bats.
The Pride was looking to secure the lead in game three of the series, but fell by one run losing 5-4. The Bandits scored five runs on eleven hits and four Pride errors.
The Pride fought for a game four win during with a little help in the bottom of the second on four straight walks by Jennie Finch who put the Pride’s first run on the board. In the bottom of the third, Kelly Kretchman hit a three run homer for a four run lead. In the fourth inning, the Bandits posted their first run along with two more in the fifth. The Bandits could not get another run across leaving the Pride with a win at 4-3.
The Bandits came for revenge during the final game as they scored 8 runs on 14 hits. The Pride were only able to cross the plate twice against the Bandits pitchers (Eileen Canney ; Jessica Sallinger ). By winning the final game at 8-2, the Bandits won the series.
The other season opening series was held in Nashville, TN at Draper Diamond on the Lipscomb University campus. This series included the newest team to the league, the Tennessee Diamonds, and the Akron Racers.
The Tennessee Diamonds chalked one run on the board during the first inning, but trailed Akron the rest of the game. The Racers got one run back in the second and then executed during the third as they took advantage of Diamonds’ errors (3) and hit aggressively at the plate. Akron posted five runs on the board during that inning alone leaving the score at 6-1. The Diamonds were not done fighting for the ‘W’ as they matched the Racers with five runs in the third and fourth innings, but the Racers still one-upped them in the top of the fourth for the winning run.
For game two the Racers did not allow the Diamonds to cross the plate more than three times as they held them to only six hits. The Racers tallied 11 runs on 13 hits.
Monica Abbott made her Diamonds debut for game three as she put on a show for the fans. Abbott pitched the first shutout game for Diamonds by striking out 15 Akron batters and only allowing two hits. The Racers’s pitcher, Taryn Mowatt, walked in the Diamonds only run in the bottom of the first, which ended up being the winning run for the Diamonds.
The Racers shut down the Diamonds during game four as they won the game 8-1 with eight runs on eleven hits and with some help from Diamond errors. The Diamonds scored one run on five hits.
Although the Racers had the series in the bag, the Diamonds weren’t about to go out without another win under their belt. Both teams battled for ten innings. At the bottom of the tenth in international tie-breaker, Dede Justice was due at second, but Aubree Brattin pinch ran for her. Shanna Diller laid down a bunt to advance the runner to third, and Loryn Johnson suicide squeezed her in at home for 1-0 victory.
The Tennessee Diamonds will host this week’s series against the USSSA Pride at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tennessee, and the Chicago Bandits will hold the next series against the Akron Racers at Judson University in Eglin, Illinois. All league games can be watched live on MLB.com.
Batting Average: .529 – USSSA Pride – Kelly Kretchman
Homeruns: 3 – Chicago Bandits – Rachel Folden
RBIs: 7 – USSSA Pride – Kelly Kretchman
Strikeouts: 29 – Tennessee Diamonds – Monica Abbott
Upcoming Games (CST)