Allentown, Pa. - The season for the Philadelphia Force came to end on a rainy Sunday afternoon virtue of a 3-2, extra innings defeat at the hands of the New England Riptide. 656 rowdy Force fans attended the final game of the season in support of the team. The Force finish with a record of 24-20, tied for 4th in the NPF standings, but the Rockford Thunder gets the playoff nod based on the tiebreakers.
The Force got things going in the fourth inning. With one out, Jenna Hall drew a walk from Riptide starter Danielle Henderson. Hall was pitch ran for by Stacie Pestrak. After a Kellie Wilkerson fly out, Force captain Chelsea Spencer sliced a ball into the gap in right center. The ball skidded away from the outfielders and back to the fence. Pestrak scored easily and the Force were up 1-0.
In the top of the sixth, the Riptide battled back off of Force starter Kristina Thorson. Alex Sutton led off the inning by blasting a home run to deep left to knot the score at 1. The next batter Shanel Scott walked. With Jackie Pasquerella at the plate, Scott took off for second. The throw from Ashley Smith was on the bag and Spencer appeared to place the tag.
The umpire at second base called her out, but Riptide coaches complained that Spencer did not control the ball when making the tag. After a meeting of the umpiring minds, they changed their original call and Scott was safe at second base with her record-setting 32nd stolen base of the year.
Pasquerella moved her over to third with a sacrifice bunt. At this point, Thorson was replaced by Jodie Cox. Lyndsey Angus drove in Scott with an infield single and the Riptide had the lead.
But the Force were not to be outdone, Wilkerson started the bottom of the sixth with a double to left center. One out later, Smith was hit by a pitch. With Jaime Dacey at bat, the Force runners executed a double steal, and catcher KJ Kellys throw went into left field allowing Wilkerson to score and tie the game.
The game remained tied until the eighth inning. Scott slapped a one-out base hit. She advanced to second on a groundout. Angus drew a walk to put runners at first and second. With Carri Leto-Martin at the plate, a Cox pitch alluded Smith and the runners moved up a base. With a light but steady rain falling, the next batter was Tarrah Beyster. When the count reached 2-and-2, the umpires called time, and removed the players from the field. The grounds crew put down Quik-Dry on the field and in 22 minutes play resumed. The first pitch after the delay for Cox went to the backstop, and Scott scored to put Riptide on top.
In the bottom of the eighth and with their playoff hopes on the line, Hall knocked a base hit up the middle. She was then pinch ran for by Rocky Spencer. Wilkerson grounded to Jocelyn Forest, who relieved Henderson in the fifth, and she got Spencer out at second. A passed ball moved Wilkerson to second base and the Riptide walked C. Spencer to put runners on first and second. Forest then retired Smith and Dacey on strikeouts to conclude an exciting season of Force professional softball.
The Riptide move on the NPF playoffs next weekend in Kimberly, Wisconsin.
The Force would like to thank all the fans who supported them this season. Please continue to monitor www.philadelphiaforce.com during the off-season. We look to see you at ECTB Stadium again in 2008.