The Bandits increased their shutout innings streak to 22, in a 3-0 victory over the St. Louis Saints. Bandits starting pitcher Lindsay Chouinard shut down the Saints, not allowing a hit until there were two down in the sixth. With the win, the Bandits take their record to 28-3, the best in the NPF.
After Chouinard punctuated a 1-2-3 first inning with a strikeout of left fielder Kim Palmer, Chicago third baseman Vicky Galindo led off the home-half with a triple over the head of Saints right fielder Andrea Mitchell. The ball had just reached the outfield fence by the time the former Cal All-American rounded second on her way to third.
Despite the speedy lead-off batter just 60 feet away, three straight Bandits batters failed to put the games first run across the plate.
In the top of the second inning the Saints got their first base runner when the hot groundball off the bat of first baseman Jen Bruck handcuffed Chicago shortstop Jaime Clark. The error allowed Bruck to reach first.
Despite the error, Clark quickly recouped. St. Louis shortstop Natalie Peters hit a hard one-hopper back to the circle. Chouinard stabbed the ball, spun, and fired. Clark came across the bag, getting the force at second, side-arming the ball to first baseman Jennie Finch, to complete the 1-6-3 double play.
In the bottom of the second, Bandits centerfielder Megan Ciolli ripped a two-out single through the middle, left fielder Laura Harms, the hero from Friday night, followed. Harms launched a double to centerfield, scoring Ciolli, to give the Bandits an early 1-0 lead.
After Chouinard sat down the Saints in order for the third straight inning, Clark collected the second-straight two-out single, and followed with her eighth stolen base of the year, but was stranded at second.
Chouinard continued to dominate the Saints lineup, earning a strikeout in each inning she pitched. The only two baserunners to reach in the first five innings were Peters on the Clark error in the second and Palmer reached on an error by Finch at first.
Again in the bottom of the fourth, the home team turned in a two-out single. This time Ciolli laced one through the box, but did not give Harms a chance to knock her in, when she was thrown out attempting to steal second to end the inning.
Ciolli finished the day two for two, with a run scored.
After Chouinard retired the side in order for the fourth time in the first five innings, Harms came to the dish to leadoff the bottom of the fifth. Continuing her hot hitting, Harms reached on an infield single to Peters at short, but like Ciolli in the previous inning, was thrown out by catcher Casey Gurrell attempting to swipe second.
After Liz Bouck was unable to reach on the bunt attempt, Galindo notched her second hit of the game, with the fourth two-out base hit for the Bandits in as many innings.
However, neither third base coach Eugene Lenti or Galindo had learned the lesson from Ciolli or Harms, as Gurrell erased her third base runner in two innings trying to steal second.
Galindo finished the night two for three, having earned her third triple of the year.
In the top of the sixth, the Saints managed their first and only hit of the contest, a two-out double to left-centerfield by St. Louis led-off batter, Bridget Fournie. Chouinard rebounded well and struck out the next batter, second baseman Ashley Heady.
Chouinard went six innings, striking out a single Saint in each frame. The former DePaul standout, allowed only the Fournie double. The win was the sixth of the year for Chouinard.
The Bandits added a pair of insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth, after second baseman Anne Steffan earned a lead-off walk.
Undeterred by Gurrells impressive two-inning stretch, Steffan took off for second on the first pitch to Clark and slide in successful. The stolen base was Steffans 20th of the year.
A fielders choice by Clark moved Stefan to third, and brought Finch up with a runner on third and one out. The former Arizona All-American delivered, driving a ball through the left side of the infield and scoring Steffan to move the score to 2-0.
Up next for the home team was catcher Selena Collins. Her groundball to third baseman Beth Wade, moved Finch to second for designated player Christina Enea.
The former Oklahoma star has been swinging the bat well of late, and continued by knocking a single back up the middle. Finch, taking off on contact, scored easily, but the relay into the middle of the diamond was able to cut down Enea going to second. Nonetheless, the Bandits increased their lead to 3-0 after six complete innings.
Amy Harre, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NPF draft, came in to close out a Bandits win for the second straight night. Harre, struck out one en route to earning her league best seventh save of the season.
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The Bandits and Saints will conclude their four-game series on Sunday at 12:00 noon. If you are unable to make it out to the ball park, make sure to tune into Comcast Sports Net- Chicago for the live action.