After Lauren Bay and the Chicago Bandits made history with the franchise's first no-hitter on Friday night, Jennie Finch continued the trend on Saturday against the Stratford Brakettes. Finch, on top of her game, refused to surrender a single hit to the Brakettes, shutting Stratford out, 3-0.
After Finch struck out the side in the top of the first, the Bandits looked to put a runner across in their first at bat, and just like Thursdays first inning, Chicago shortstop Jaime Clark provided that initial run. In almost identical fashion as the previous night, Clark took to the box with two down. With the bases empty, Clark drove a towering shot to right field. The ball, caught in a swirling wind, spun Stratford right fielder Denise Denis around in circles, but carried enough to clear the fence and give the home team an early 1-0 lead. Clark recorded her fifth homerun of the season all coming in the past five games.
Clark finished the day two for two, with a walk. Her five homers are good for third in the league.
Finch recorded another strike out in the second and continued to cruise, allowing only a single base runner on a third-inning walk to Brakette second baseman Kim Ovittore.
After Bandit first baseman Christina Enea singled to lead off the second and was stranded, the Bandits again added to their total in the third. Vicky Galindo legged out an infield single at the top of the inning, and after Liz Bouck sacrificed her to second, Clark reached base for the second time on the night, this time via a full count walk.
As Brakettes pitcher Sarah Pauly threw the first pitch to Finch, Clark took off for second. Brakette catcher Killian Roessners throw sailed to the left of Ovittore who was cutting in front of the base to intercept the throw. The tailing ball allowed the speedy Galindo to swipe home, advancing the lead to 2-0, which was where the score stood after three innings.
Finch continued her dominance from the center of the diamond in the fourth. After getting Denis to pop out, Finch dropped an arching changeup across the plate, catching Brakette designated player Germaine Fairchild looking. Fairchild, unpleased by the call of home plate umpire Doug Keller, pointed her bat towards the ump as she sauntered back to the first base dugout. Keller was unimpressed and ejected Fairchild from the game. Jill Cimmanello replaced her in the order, before Finch earned her sixth K of the game by sitting down third baseman Jen Owens.
In the bottom of the fourth, Chicago earned a leadoff single for the third straight inning, when first baseman Christina Enea smacked a ball through the right side of the infield, for her second hit of the night. Centerfielder Megan Ciolli repeated her second inning performance when she sacrificed Enea over, before Kate Varde went to second to pinch run for her.
The next batter, left fielder Laura Harms, punched a hard-hit grounder to Brakette third baseman Owens. Varde was waiting for the throw to first before trying to advance to third, but Owens caught her out of the corner of her eye and fired to second, initiating a 5-4-6 putout at third, and Harms reached on the fielders choice, but could not score.
After Finch sat down the Brakettes in order in the top of the fifth, Jaime Clark recorded her second two-out hit of the night. Clark singled through the left side and Amanda Jensen, just inserted into the outfield, went down to one knee to corral the ball, but the scorching grounder found the hole between her legs and continued to roll to the left field fence. As soon as the ball passed by Jensen, third base coach Eugene Lenti began circling his arm, and Clark began circling the bases, diving head first across the plate, moving the score to 3-0.
The Bandits held the Brakettes down sending the next nine batters back to the dugout over the next three innings. Finch finished the game recording eight strikeouts, while only walking one. Pauly struck out three, walked two, and gave up five hits.
With the win, Finch tied Lauren Bay with a 7-0, second best in the NPF and moved to fifth in the league with 50 strikeouts. Her shutout performance moved her season ERA to 0.32, the NPF's lowest among pitchers with more than two appearances.
The Bandits and the Brakettes will continue their series on Saturday at 6:00 PM. Call 1-877-7BANDIT or Ticketmaster for all Chicago Bandits ticket needs. Lindsay Chouinard will start for the Bandits on Friday and Leslie Malerich for the Brakettes.
For the most up-to-date information on the Chicago Bandits, live stats, and internet radio broadcasts during all home games, visit the Official Website of the Chicago Bandits, www.ChicagoBandits.com