ROSEMONT, Ill. – Cat Osterman threw a two-hit shutout to lead the No. 1 seed USSSA Pride to a 4-0 win in the first game of its best two-out-of-three series against the fourth-seeded Akron Racers Thursday during the opening day of action at the NPF Championship Series at the Ballpark of Rosemont.
Osterman was perfect through 3.1 innings of play Thursday night, eventually closing her complete-game shutout victory with 10 strikeouts while allowing only four total base runners on a pair of hits and two walks.
The Pride opened the scoring in the bottom of the second inning when catcher Megan Willis crushed a one-out, two-run home run into the MB Financial Party Deck beyond left field off of Akron starter Erin Arevalo.
USSSA added two more runs in the bottom of the third on a pair of two-out Akron errors. After Kristyn Sandberg was hit by a two-out pitch and Kelly Kretschman beat out a bunt single, consecutive tough grounders to Alicia Herron at short got through to extend the Pride lead to 4-0 on the unearned runs. Kretschman scored two of the Pride’s four runs in the game.
NPF Co-Defensive Player of the Year Kelley Montalvo broke up Osterman’s perfect game bid with one out in the top of the fourth, roping a triple just inside the right-field line. The Pride kept Montalvo at third thanks to a tremendous diving snag at short by Lauren Lappin, who leapt to her left to corral a Briana Hesson shot before rising and firing to first to end the inning.
Lappin led off the fourth with a single back through the middle before Natasha Watley was hit by an Arevalo pitch, prompting the Racers to insert Lisa Norris into the circle. The North Carolina alum retired the next two batters to the plate before a Sandberg walk loaded the bases, but Norris escaped the jam with a strikeout to keep the Racers deficit at 4-0.
Norris again escaped a jam in the bottom of the sixth when Watley and NPF Player of the Year Caitlin Lowe beat out back-to-back one-out singles. Norris came back to fan All-NPF choice Jessica Mendoza and NPF Rookie of the Year Sandberg to end the inning, but Osterman shut the door before Akron could mount any kind of comeback in the seventh.
Arevalo took the loss, allowing four runs (two earned) in three-plus innings of work. She gave up four hits and two walks with one strikeout. Norris tossed 3.0 innings of effective relief, allowing no runs on two hits and two walks with six strikeouts.