Shelby Turnier Photo by Bill Diehm Courtesy of National Pro Fastpitch
TUSCALOOSA, AL (August 21, 2016) – Shelby Turnier stands about a foot shorter than Monica Abbott, but she was big enough for the moment on Sunday.
The 5-foot-5 rookie right-hander for the Chicago Bandits went pitch-for-pitch with the NPF Pitcher of the Year in Sunday's decisive semifinal game at Rhoads Stadium and shut out the Scrap Yard Dawgs for 4 1/3 innings to take her team to the finals.
Defending Cowles Cup champion Chicago, seeded third, won 2-1 to take two out of three games from the Scrap Yard Dawgs to earn a berth in the best-of-three NPF Championship Series.
Turnier (6-4) entered in relief of lefty Angel Bunner, who allowed just one unearned run in 2 2/3 innings. A standout at the University of Central Florida, Turnier kept the Dawgs off balance with her spin and ball movement.
For the third straight game against the second-seeded Scrap Yard Dawgs, Chicago scored first. Catcher Taylor Edwards hit a one-out double to left field. A walk and an Amanda Kamekona infield single loaded the bases, and Edwards scored on Danielle Zymkowitz's groundout to second to make it 1-0.
Zymkowitz tripled in Kamekona, who had reached on a single over second base, in the third to make it 2-0.
"I think they came up with a good game plan for my pitching style," said Abbott, who pitched Chicago to last year's league championship before signing with the expansion team from the Houston area in the offseason.
The Scrap Yard Dawgs got their only run in the bottom of the inning. Emily Crane hit a single off Bunner and moved to second on Kiki Stokes' sacrifice bunt. Britt Vonk reached on an error and, after Turnier entered to replace Bunner, shortstop Madison Shipman hit an RBI single to left.
Turnier was unfazed. She struck out the next batter to end the inning, and the next four in a row after that. She retired 10 out of 12 batters, issuing a pair of walks, before finally giving up a single to Dawgs outfielder Emilee Koerner to start off the bottom of the seventh inning.
The Scrap Yard Dawgs kept pressing. Chicago turned a double play after Koerner's hit, but the home plate umpire called catcher interference, ruling that Emily Crane's bat hit the catcher's glove, negating the two outs and leaving runners on first and second.
Turnier responded with a strikeout and a fly out, then walked Nerissa Myers to load the bases. Shipman filed out to center field to end it.
"It was a good ballgame," Scrap Yard Dawgs coach Tripp MacKay said. "We just came up short."
Abbott allowed two runs on six hits, striking out nine batters and walking one. She talked after the game about close calls that she didn't get for strikes and hard-hit balls that went straight to Chicago defenders.
"I think literally (we were) a bit unlucky," she said.
Turnier allowed two hits with six strikeouts and three walks for the win in relief. Kamekona went 2-for-3 to lead her team at the plate.
Chicago advanced to the final with a 25-26 record.
The Scrap Yard Dawgs finished 30-21 in their inaugural season with a roster that included 16 rookies.
"They were awesome from the start," MacKay said. "They came together as a team quick. It wasn't a surprise to me that they had a successful season. We had to jump in and just go and let them adjust to the league."
About the Chicago Bandits:
Since 2005, the Chicago Bandits have been members of the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) league. Located in Rosemont, the Bandits provide an opportunity for female fastpitch players to further their careers at a professional level, and the roster has included such names as Jennie Finch, Stacy May-Johnson, Emily Allard and Tammy Williams. The three-time NPF Champions, who are owned by Bill Sokolis, play at The Ballpark at Rosemont, the only stadium in the country built for a women’s professional team. The 2016 season will be the Bandits’ 12th season in the NPF.
About the Scrap Yard Dawgs:
The Scrap Yard Dawgs will begin competition in the National Pro Fastpitch league in 2016. The Dawgs will provide elite softball players the opportunity to pursue a professional career and inspire the next generation of professionals. Located in the Houston area, the Dawgs organization and its players are committed to demonstrating leadership in community involvement, entertainment, and professionalism. Follow the Dawgs at www.scrapyarddawgs.com or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
About National Pro Fastpitch (NPF):
National Pro Fastpitch (NPF), an Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball since 2002, provides elite female athletes with an opportunity to pursue a professional career in diamond sports beyond their collegiate success. The 2016 NPF season will be televised on CBS Sports Network. Coverage includes the NPF College Draft presented by Bownet on Thur., April 14, followed by 23 regular-season games, a Championship Series Preview Special and the 2016 NPF Championship Series. The NPF recently announced that the Scrap Yard Dawgs, located in The Woodlands, Texas, will join the Akron Racers, Chicago Bandits, Dallas Charge, Pennsylvania Rebellion and USSSA Florida Pride for the 2016 season. National Pro Fastpitch players hail from the U.S., Australia, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands and New Zealand, representing the most accomplished and talented athletes in the sport of women’s softball.
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