KIMBERLY - Maybe this is the start of something big. Perhaps this is exactly what the Rockford Thunder needed. Either way, the Thunder's thrilling 6-3 win over Akron on Saturday in an elimination game of the 2007 National Pro Fastpitch Championship Series kept those title dreams alive another day. And it was all off the bat of a player who may have got just a little 'lucky' on her game-winning, three-run home run in the top of the 10th inning at Sunset Park in Kimberly.
Jamie Davidson, a 5-foot-7 utility player out of Floyds Knobs, Ind., took a two-out changeup from Akron's Radara McHugh and sent it over the left center wall to break a 3-3 tie and eventually send the Thunder into today's loser's bracket game against either New England or Washington at noon. The winner of that loser's bracket game will advance to the championship game at 2:45 p.m.
"I just got my barrel out there," Rockford's Jamie Davidson. "I'm not exactly in the lineup for my hitting. I'm in there for my defense. So I was just trying to put the ball in play.
"I got lucky."
The Thunder may need some more of that, but some more of Cat Osterman will help too. Osterman entered the game in the eighth inning and proceeded to strike out six of her first eight batters. The 6-foot-2 Austin, Texas native also worked herself out of a jam in the last inning to preserve the victory.
Rockford coach Javier Vela put Osterman in after originally putting in reliever Abbie Sims. Sims struggled with her control in the sixth inning, which forced Vela to put back in starter Serena Settlemier to finish the inning as well as the seventh. Vela said he'll start Osterman tomorrow in another elimination game.
"We have to compete," Vela said. "We're not the best hitting ballclub in the world, but if we put it in play and put some pressure on defense and cause some mistakes, we'll be OK."
Davidson's home run was the second three-run home run hit by the Thunder with two outs. Rockford catcher Mackenzie Vandergeest blasted a three-run home run in the third inning to put Rockford up 3-0.
Akron battled back in the sixth, getting a solo home run from Kristen Butler, a run on a wild pitch before tying the game on a squeeze bunt by Jamee Juarez.
"We thought luck was turning our way," Akron head coach Shonda Stanton said. "But the game is all about one pitch here or there, and with two outs, they had three-run home runs both times."
Rockford (26-20) will have its work cut out with either New England or Washington. The Riptide are the defending champions while The Thunder were no-hit by Washington's Monica Abbott in a 4-0 loss to the Glory in their opener on Saturday.
"We made it hard for ourselves so now we have to come back and play Thunder ball," Davidson said. "If we do that, we'll be fine."
Washington pitcher Monica Abbott tossed a no-hitter in the Glory's 4-0 victory over Rockford in the teams' National Pro Fastpitch Championship Series opener on Saturday at Sunset Park in Kimberly.
Abbott, a 6-foot-3 left hander, struck out 13 and faced 21 batters in getting the victory, which left Thunder coach Javier Vela looking for answers.
"Abbott is a great pitcher but she just dominated us this morning," Vela said. "You name the way and she did it."
Abbott outdueled the Thunders' own star left hander Cat Osterman, who gave up two earned runs and struck out five over six innings in the loss.
Sara Larquier had the big hit off Osterman, a two-run home run in the fourth inning that put the glory up 3-0.
Come on Eileen
New England's Eileen Canney struck out six batters and allowed just one hit in leading the defending NPF champion Riptide past Akron, 3-0, in the teams' opener on Saturday.
Lyndsey Argus and Alex Sutton had RBI singles in the fourth inning to put New England ahead for good. Argus finished with two hits with K.J. Kelley and Gina Carbonatto also adding two hits.
By Post-Crescent staff writer Ricardo Arguello: 920-993-1000, ext. 558, or firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos copyright Hope-Valarie Pashos. For permission to use or reprint, email email@example.com.