Sulphur, LA - What looked to be a classic pitching duel between the USSSA Florida Pride's Danielle Lawrie and the NPF Pitcher of the Year, Lisa Norris from the Akron Racers, turned into a lopsided victory for the Pride. USSSA advances Saturday at Sulphur Parks and Recreation's McMurry Park in final game of the Best out of 3 Semi-Final series. The Pride broke it open in the bottom of the 4th inning, leading 1-0, Norris walked the Pride's Andrea Duran who later scored on a Natasha Watley ground rule double, that is what began a 4 run inning for the #2 seed Pride. Watley would then score on a Kelly Kretschman double and Kretschman later scored herself on a beautifully executed double steal as the Pride coasted over the Racers 6-1 to advance to play the NPF regular season champion Chicago Bandits in the NPF Championship. Game 1 between the Bandits and the Pride is tonight at 7pm CST. The Bandits eliminated the Tennessee Diamonds last night to advance to the Championship Round. Lawrie was able to get out of a 6th inning jam when the Racers Crystal Bustos was thrown out at home on an attempted steal following the strikeout of Clare Burnum. Pinch Runner Sharonda McDonald scored the lone run for the Racers on a Jamee Juarez base hit after being put into the game for Samantha Ricketts who walked to lead off the inning. Lawrie finished the game with 8 strikeouts and the win for the Pride.
No doubt emotions will be running high tonight when the league's top 2 teams go head to head in game 1 of the Best of 3 Championship Series as tonight the league and the area celebrate the career of the Bandit's Jennie Finch who announced her retirement from professional softball last month. The series with the Bandits and the Pride will be the final one of what has been a remarkable career for the game's most noteable player. Finch will be honored before the this evening's game with an on-field ceremony recognizing her for her accomplishments and for what she has done for women's fastpitch softball. Several of Finch's USA Softball teammates are members of the Pride including Duran, Watley and Kretschman just to name a few. The Bandits will have to put their emotions aside after the pre-game ceremony if they plan on sending Finch out with a championship.