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Gibson homers, pitches well to lead Force

Allentown, Pa.- Megan Gibson tossed a three-hitter, and Savannah Long went 2-for-3 as the Philadelphia Force opened a four-game set against the Rockford Thunder with a 4-3 victory.
 
The Force struck first in the contest. Trena Peel reached with a one-out fielder’s choice that erased Ashley Smith, who had led off the inning with a walk. With Clare Burnum at the plate, Peel stole second base and advanced to third on a throwing error by the Rockford catcher. Burnum then smacked a hard grounder to the second baseman who threw home in attempt to get Peel, but Peel used a good-looking hook slide to avoid the tag and put the Force up 1-0.
 
In the fourth, the Force would get two more. Long singled to right to start the frame. Jenna Hall laid down her league-high-tying seventh sacrifice bunt of the season to move Long to second base. Gibson followed with a tremendous blast over the center field fence to give the Force a three run advantage. It was the Texas A&M’s graduate’s first home run of her professional career.
 
Gibson was perfect in the circle for the first four innings. But to lead off the fifth, Tonya Callahan put an end to any suspense as she slammed a Gibson offering just inside the left field foul pole for her third home run of the season.
 
The Force (15-6) countered the Thunder’s run with a run of their own in the fifth inning. With one out Sharonda McDonald singled off Rockford pitcher Allison Kime. League’s leading hitter, Kellie Wilkerson, followed with a single on a hit-and-run to move McDonald to third base. Chelsea Spencer scored McDonald with a looping single over the shortstop’s head to make the score 4-1 Force after five innings.
 
But the Thunder (10-11) would not go away. In the top of the sixth inning, Kristen Zaleski led off with a walk. Two outs later and with Zaleski now at third base, Callahan stroked her second dinger of the night to cut the Force lead to just one run.
 
Gibson went the distance for the Force. She allowed just three Rockford hits and struck out three. Gibson improved her season record to 5-0 with the win.
 
Kime pitched all six innings for the Thunder. The Force knocked seven base hits off of her, and she struck out five batters. Kime’s record fell to 4-3 on the season.
 
On Thursday, the same two teams meet again at ECTB Stadium. The Pink Agenda will be the charity of the evening. The Force will also honor Ashley Fogel, an 11-year old softball player from Virginia who is battling Leukemia. The Force will donate their half of the 50/50 raffle to the Pink Agenda in Ashley’s name. Like all Thursday’s, it will be dollar dog night at the park. The game will be shown locally on TV2 and can be watched on the internet via a Force internet streaming subscription. Please visit www.philadelphiaforce.com for more details on internet broadcasts.