Kristen Butler, Natasha Watley (Photo by Dina Kwit)
ROSEMONT, Ill. – August 16, 2013 - The Chicago Bandits and USSSA Pride will play for an automatic bid into the National Pro Fastpitch Championship tomorrow after the Pride’s 4-1 defeat tonight in front of a sold out crowd at the Ballpark at Rosemont. The Pride stayed alive using a big three-run fourth inning to take a 4-1 lead.
The Pride entered the series needing to win three of the four games in order to force a tie-breaker for first-place and currently lead the series 2-1. Tomorrow’s game will be the deciding factor on who advances straight into the Championship series.
Former University of Oklahoma standouts Michelle Gascoigne and Keilani Ricketts faced each other in the circle for the first time wearing NPF uniforms. Gascoigne knows a thing or two about pitching in big games as she led the Sooners to a 2013 National Championship just three months ago. However, Ricketts would ultimately come out victorious, pitching a complete game while only allowing four hits and one run.
The Bandits jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the first inning after Megan Wiggins drew a walk, advanced to second off a fielder’s choice and scored after Kristen Butler’s single drove her in.
Both pitchers dueled through the second and third inning, only allowing one hit and tossing a combined five strikeouts.
A single by Andrea Duran in the fourth jumpstarted the Pride’s offense which went on to score three runs off four hits and take a 3-1 lead. Kristyn Sandberg reached on a fielder’s choice and Francesca Enea followed with a single to put runners on first and second. Megan Willis came through in the clutch again hitting a single up the middle to score Sandberg and tie the game. The Pride took the lead after Charters scored off an error and Natasha Watley hit the team’s fourth single of the inning to score Willis.
The Bandits tried to rally in the sixth inning after Amber Patton led off with a bunt single but the Pride’s defense recorded three straight outs to end the inning unscathed.
USSSA added an insurance run in the seventh when Caitlin Lowe reached on a fielder’s choice, stole second and scored off Kelly Kretschman’s single.
Alisa Goler tried to rally her troops late in the seventh inning, hitting a two-out single but the Bandits were unable to capitalize as a fly-out ended the contest and the Pride took game three, 4-1.
The Bandits and Pride play game four tomorrow, Saturday, August 17 with the first pitch set for 7:35 p.m. CDT at the Ballpark at Rosemont.
There are still a limited amount of tickets available, but they can only be purchased at the box office, which opens at 5 p.m. CDT prior to tomorrow’s game.
SITE: Ballpark at Rosemont
SCORE: Pride 4, Bandits 1
RECORDS: Bandits (35-12), Pride (34-13)
NEXT BANDITS GAME: Saturday, August 17 @ 7:35 p.m. vs. USSSA Pride
Since 2005, the Chicago Bandits have been members of National Pro Fastpitch. Located in the Chicagoland area, the Bandits provide an opportunity for female fastpitch players to further their careers at a professional level. The roster has included such names as Jennie Finch, Stacy May and Monica Abbott. The two-time NPF Champions play at The Ballpark at Rosemont, the only stadium in the country built for a women’s professional team.
About National Pro Fastpitch
National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) is headquartered in Nashville, Tenn. 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 and has been since 2002.