Eleven players from last years Comcast Chicago Bandits roster will return for the 2006 campaign and will be joined by three new faces. The list of returnees includes seven 2005 NPF West All-Stars and Co-Pitcher of the Year, Jennie Finch. Two of the three newcomers were NPF East All-Star selections last season.
The Bandits, who went 41-7 and enjoyed regular-season championship accolades last year, will look to avenge their heart-breaking NPF championship game loss to the Akron Racers who finished with a 36-10 record. The 2006 lineup will go up against two international teams and face five league squads eight different times this season.
Those returning from the 2005 team include Jennie Finch, Vicky Galindo, Jamie Clark, Selena Collins, Anne Steffan, Megan Ciolli, Christina Enea, Gina Oaks, Laura Harms, Amy Harre, and Mackenzie Vandergeest. New team members wearing Bandits jerseys this season will be Peaches James, Trena Peel and Jessica Sallinger.
Jennie Finch, who wrapped up her inaugural NPF season with a perfect 14-0 record, shared annual league pitching honors with then-teammate Lauren Bay and earned All-Star accolades, will return as the Bandits No. 1 hurler following the birth in April of her first child with husband, Arizona Diamondback Casey Daigle. In 2005, the U.S. National Team member and Olympic Gold Medalist notched a team-high 0.88 ERA with 144 strikeouts as she allowed only 46 hits in 95.0 innings pitched. At the plate, Finch went 25-for-81 with 22 RBI, two doubles, two triples, six home runs for a .309 batting average and a .605 slugging percentage.
U.S. National Team members and 2005 league All-Stars, Jamie Clark and Vicky Galindo will once again look to provide a spark for the Bandits as they did last season. Clark led the team and tied for fifth in the league with seven home runs while recording a team-high 21 runs and 25 RBI. She tallied 27 hits, seven doubles, two triples and boasted a five-game home run streak in her first season in Chicago. Galindo led the team last year in four categories, notching 33 hits, eight doubles, three triples for a .402 batting average and tied for first with 21 runs scored with Clark and Anne Steffan.
Selena Collins and Anne Steffan, two more NPF West All-Stars in 2005, return to the Bandits after breakout performances last season. Collins boasted career-highs with 32 hits and 23 RBI. She ranked in the top-20 of three NPF single-season records and tallied a .333 batting average with four doubles and three home runs. Steffan led the team with 23 stolen bases, tied for first with 21 runs scored and ranked second with 32 hits for a .339 on-base percentage.
Peaches James and Trena Peel will join the Bandits after playing with the New York Juggernaut last summer. Both were selected as 2005 NPF East All-Stars and enter their third years in the league. James went 14-5 with the No. 4 league ERA at 1.55 and ranked third amongst NPF pitchers, striking out 138 opponents last season. Her 14 victories tied her with current teammate Jennie Finch for third-best mark in league standings. Peel led the Juggernaut in runs scored (23), triples (4), walks (22), stolen bases (16), and slugging percentage (.348).
Georgia Tech Yellow Jacket Jessica Sallinger will make her professional debut this summer in Chicago. She is the all-time ACC strikeout leader with 1,398 and the winningest pitcher in ACC history, boasting 109 career wins which ties her with current teammate Jennie Finch. She boasts career collegiate records in ERA (1.12), opponent batting average (.150), appearances (168), games started (152), completed games (123), shutouts (52) and innings pitched (1,008.2).
Megan Ciolli, Christina Enea, Laura Harms, Amy Harre, Gina Oaks and Mackenzie Vandergeest will all return after their inaugural seasons with the Bandits in 2005 for another summer in Chicago.