The Arizona Heat dominated in all aspects of the game to beat the first place Chicago Bandits, 10-0. Although Arizona was extremely sharp on the field, their aggressive offense is where they greatly surpassed the Bandits.
The Bandits had claimed the title of first place after the previous nights game, but the Heat were still battling for fourth place to earn their ticket to the playoffs. The Heat were only a game away from the current fourth place team, the New York Juggernaut.
The Heat did not waste any time when they started this game. In the first inning Lauren Bauer (3 for 5) and Nichole Thompson (2 for 4) both had singles off Bandit starter, Amy Harre. Bauer bunted the ball perfectly so that neither third baseman Vicky Galindo nor shortstop Jaime Clark could field it before Bauer reached first. Thompson hit the ball into the leftfield gap for a single. Even with the two singles, the Heat failed to score any runs.
Arizona leftfielder Cheryl Schaefer covered her position catching fly balls and made the first two outs of the first inning. In the first two innings, every time the Bandits made contact with the ball it went up into the air just to be caught by a Heat player. Four of the six hits were pop-ups.
The Heat were on fire in the top of the third inning. Harre started off ahead with a strikeout and an assist on a ground out. With two outs, Bauer took first base when Vicky Galindo bobbled the ground ball. Schaefer singled followed by a walk to Thompson. Taira Flowers drove in both runners to bring the Heat ahead, 2-0.
Megan Ciolli was the first Bandit on base in the third inning. Laura Harms strategically sacrificed herself to move over Ciolli. Galindo walked to put runners on first and second, but the Bandits did not execute.
Although pitchers had changed for the Bandits, the fourth inning continued to be another promising one for the Heat. Lindsay Chouinard came in to relieve Harre who had given up four hits, one walk, and struck out two. In the inning, two more runs were driven in by Bauer and Schaefer.
The Bandits earned half of their hits in the fourth inning. Jaime Clark hit a ground ball up the middle for her only hit of the game. Clark attempted to steal second base, but could not beat out the throw from catcher Jackie Coburn. Selena Collins and Mackenzie Vandergeest hit back-to-back singles, but both were left stranded.
Flowers had Haley Viefhaus diving for the ball at third, but the ball slid through the gap for a base hit in the fifth. Flowers led off the inning but also ended the inning as the Heat batted around their order.
Toni Mascarenas hit the ball short to first baseman and reached the base before anyone could cover. Lovie Jung brought in a run with her fielders choice and later scored. Megan Ciolli made a remarkable catch deep in centerfield, but Mascarenas tagged up and scored. Next came three singles from Ladonia Hughes (2 for 4), Bauer, and Schaefer and a double by Thompson to stretch the gap to 10-0.
After the entire batting order for Arizona had batted, the Bandits put Gina Oaks in the circle. In the 2 innings pitched by Chouinard, she gave eight hits, eight runs, and only struck out one. By the end of the game, Oaks struck out two and gave up two hits.
Just as the Bandits gained some hope, they were shot down by Arizona. Christina Enea came in to pinch hit and reached first on an error by Jung. Laura Harms came in as a designated runner. Lindsey Hamma drove the ball up the middle to advance both. With the Bandits on a high, Haley Viefhaus hit a line drive to Jung who then made a triple play by getting both runners out.
Arizona made another multiple out play in the sixth inning when Aja Sherman came in to pitch. Shermans performance included four strikeouts, five hits, and walked one.
Gina Oaks started of the inning with a base hit down the right field line. With Oaks on first, Clark shot the ball back to Sherman who spun around and threw it to Jung for the first out. Jung then threw it to first for the second out. Sherman only gave up one hit.
There was only one runner in the seventh inning between the two teams. Arizonas Hughes had a single up the middle, but the game remained at 10-0 in Arizonas favor.
Tickets are still available for the final regular season game at noon on Sunday, August 21, 2005. Team USA Coach Mike Candrea will throw out the first pitch. Tickets are available for purchase at the front box office.
Photo Courtesy of Evan J. Thomas