The New York Juggernaut completed the series sweep of the Texas Thunder, their fourth come from behind victory in as many days. Utility player Chelsea Spencer had another stellar day at the plate going three for three with two runs scored. Alicia Smith chipped in with three RBIs and Natasha Watley drove in two more to lead the Nauts past the Thunder. Jodie Cox pitched five and two-thirds innings before being relieved by Iona College graduate, Alison Higgs. In her professional debut, Higgs finished out the game, earning the win with a final strikeout against 2004 Olympian Amanda Freed.
Texas got things started in the top of the first inning when Kim Nesloney hit a single to left field and stole second base to put a runner on with one out for the Thunder. Kristen Zaleski followed with her first of four walks on the day. With two outs, Lindsay Gardner hit a two RBI double to left center field to give the Thunder their first lead of the day.
New York managed four runs in the bottom of the second inning to pull ahead. Laura Taylor led off the inning with a strikeout, but a dropped third strike and errant throw by Texas catcher Crystal Krebs allowed her to reach first. Ryan Realmuto was hit by a pitch and Chelsea Spencer added a bunt single to load the bases. Alicia Smith knocked a bases clearing double past the diving Texas left fielder to give the Juggernaut a 3-2 advantage. A walk to third baseman Jackie Pasquerella and a sacrifice bunt by Watley put runners on second and third for New York. Carri Leto added the fourth run with an RBI double of her own to left field to score Smith from third.
In the top of the third inning, Texas tied up the game. Nesloney reached base on an error by Pasquerella and Zaleski followed with her second walk of the game. Clare Burnum registered her first hit of the day with an infield single. Lindsay Garner followed with a shot to left field, but it was not enough to get by a diving Smith to record the second out of the inning. With two outs, Monica Garza was hit but a Jodie Cox pitch to load the bases for the Thunder. A bases loaded walk to Adrian Gregory tied up the game at three a piece.
In the bottom of the inning, the Juggernaut answered with a run of their own to take the lead again. Ryan Realmuto hit her team leading fifth home run of the season with a solo blast over the left field fence.
Texas would not go down without a fight, as they totaled three runs in the sixth inning. Back-to-back singles by Karrie Rider and Julie Watson started things off for the Thunder. A sacrifice bunt by Amanda Freed put runners both runners in scoring position. Zaleskis fourth walk proved to be costly, as it loaded the bases for the NPF rival. Clare Burnum knocked in two runs with a single to left field to score pinch runner Erin Evans and Watson. Gardner notched her third RBI of the game with a single to left field to score Zaleski before Cox was relieved by left hander, Alison Higgs. Higgs, in her professional debut on the mound, recorded the last out of the inning, forcing Gregory to fly out to Juggernaut second baseman Carri Leto.
New York rallied in the bottom of the sixth inning to take their final lead of the game en route to a 7-6 win. Chelsea Spencer led off the inning with her third single of the day with a shot up the middle that knocked the glove off Thunder pitcher, Amanda Freed. Smith followed with a walk and a sacrifice bunt by Pasquerella put runners on second and third for the Nauts. Watley followed with a two RBI single that proved to be the game winner.
Higgs shut down the Texas offense in the top of the seventh innings as she retired the first three batters she faced, notching her first career strikeout for the final out of the game. The New York Juggernaut travel to New England to play the Riptide on Wednesday, July 6th, the first of a four game series. The Nauts return home to Hofstra University Softball Stadium on Wednesday, July13th as they host the Venezuelan National Team. For tickets or for more information, please call 516-485-0141 or visit the Juggernaut online at www.nynjjuggernaut.com.
(photo courtesy of David Saffran)