ROSEMONT, Ill. – Carolina Diamonds catcher Rachel Folden spent the first four years of her professional career in a Chicago Bandits uniform, winning two NPF championships along the way.
Friday night at the Ballpark at Rosemont, she came back to haunt her former team with a two-run home run in the top of the 8th to lead Carolina to a 3-1 victory over the Bandits.
“Sometimes having inside knowledge on former teammates tendencies can be beneficial,” said Folden, referring to the past two seasons she spent as a teammate of Nemitz. “It can also work in reverse though, because they know your tendencies just as much.”
Folden’s blast overshadowed a stellar effort by Diamonds pitcher Katie Burkhart (7-5) who threw eight innings to earn the victory, surrendering only 3 hits, and one run, while striking out 8. Nikki Nemitz (5-5) pitched well again, but walked away on the losing end. She finished the game striking out 5, walking 3, and scattering 8 hits.
The second game of this four game series stayed locked at 1-1 through seven innings, forcing the game into extra innings. The Diamonds threatened early in the first, putting runners on first and second, however Nemitz was able to retire the side on two strikeouts and a flyout. The Bandits also put runners on second and third to start the inning, but after a couple Burkhart strike outs, the Bandits came away empty-handed.
The Diamonds put the first run on the board in the top of the third when GiOnna DiSalvatore smacked a solo home run into the right field bleachers giving the Diamonds a 1-0 lead. The Diamonds didn’t have the lead for long as Megan Wiggins blasted a solo home run to right to lead off the bottom of the third inning, tying the game 1-1.
It was a pitcher’s duel for the remainder of the game as Burkhart and Nemitz battled, holding both teams scoreless through the remainder of regulation, forcing extra innings.
DiSalvatore hit a leadoff single in the top of the eighth which was followed by Folden’s two-run homer putting the Diamonds ahead for good. The Bandits put a threat of their own together in the bottom of the eighth after Nemitz was hit by a pitch to start the inning; however three straight ground outs ended the game, giving the Diamonds a 3-1 victory and evening the four game series at 1-1.
“I know I’m a good pitcher,” said Nemitz referring to the evolution of her game. “I trust that and I’m not trying to prove I’m good. I just need to trust myself and my defense. We had some great at bats, with great hits like [Alisa] Goler’s double we just couldn’t string everything together.”
The Bandits and Diamonds return to action tomorrow night at 7:35 p.m. for game three of the series.
About National Pro Fastpitch:
National Pro Fastpitch is headquartered in Nashville, TN. The league, created to give elite female fastpitch players the opportunity to pursue a professional career in their chosen sport, has operated since 1997 under the names of Women’s Pro Fastpitch (WPF) and Women’s Pro Softball League (WPSL). NPF is the Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball in the category of women’s fastpitch softball since 2002. www.profastpitch.com