Stratford, CONN - Kelly Wilkerson smashed a three-run homerun and drove in all four Brakette runs, as Connecticut topped China 4-2 for the third straight game. It was her second straight game with both a homerun and four RBIs, and her third smash of the year.
The Brakettes started the scoring in the third inning without recording a hit. After a leadoff walk to Erica Sobel, Chinese starter Li Qi caught Callie Piper looking. After Qi gave up another free pass to Kelly Kretchman, Adrienne Alo reached on a fielders choice. That brought up Wilkerson, who hit a grand slam the night before. Wilkerson lined a shot to leftfielder Zhang Lifong, who made a tough shoestring catch, driving in the first run on a sac fly.
Connecticut would not score again, or even record a hit off Qi, until the fifth inning. Despite an outing in which she struck out 7 Brakettes and allowed only three hits, Qi gave up five walks. The home teams first hit was a double by Kretchman, which followed Pipers leadoff walk. Julie Brooks was brought in to run for Piper, and was driven in along with Kretchman, on Wilkersons blast to dead center.
Brakettes pitcher Sarah Pauly seemed to be in the drivers seat, with a four-run lead, but China would not go down without a fight. Chinese first baseman Yu Yanhoy led off the top of the sixth with a single. She later scored from second on an RBI single by Xin Minhong. Yanhoy brought her success out to the field in the bottom half of the inning. After making a great diving stop to steal a hit from Denise Denis, Yanhoy sacrificed her body again on the next play. She made an outstretched grab of Erica Sobels foul pop-up, hitting the first base fence as she caught the ball.
Yanhoy again starred in the visitors seventh inning, as she drove in Zhang Ai with an RBI single. Ai had three hits for China, which brought the go-ahead run to the plate with two outs. It took a great catch from Brakette shortstop Jessica Merchant, who dove in foul territory to snag a looper, to end the threat. Yanhoy and Minhong each added two hits for China.
The Brakettes have now won three in a row after dropping the four previous NPF contests. With the victory, they move into a tie for second place, with a 10-5 record. China dropped to 3-3 on their North American tour, losing three straight, after capturing game 1 of the series Tuesday. They will now fly to Vancouver to compete in the Canada Cup, one of the top invitational tournaments in the world.
Pauly improved to 6-2 on the year, while striking out four, and walking one. The Brakettes will host the amateur Stratford Brakettes Saturday night in a doubleheader at starting at 6:05 at DeLuca HOF Field in Stratford. The contests will not count in NPF standings, but will mark the first-ever meeting between the two Brakette squads. It is now the 60th year in ASA amateur competition for the Stratford Brakettes, while the pros hope to continue to thrive in their first NPF season.