By Adam Musto
ELGIN, IL.-In a season that the Chicago Bandits hit 61 home runs after a combined 46 in the franchise's first three years, it was only fitting to end the regular season with a walk off grand slam.
Trailing 5-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning, Chicago loaded the bases with one out and after drawing a 3-1 count Samantha Findlay unloaded on a Serena Settlemier pitch. The ball was hit deep to centerfield and as Thunder's outfielder went to reach up for the ball it banged off the shallow bleachers and disappeared.
"It feels great, I've been seeing the ball well this week and got a good pitch and a good cut," Findlay said. "Throughout the year in every game there has been no doubt that we always know we can win no matter what we get down."
In absolutely dramatic fashion, the Chicago Bandits ended the 2008 National Pro Fastpitch regular season with a 6-5 victory over Rockford at the Judson Sports Complex Sunday. The Bandits (32-16) are the top seed in the NPF Championship Series and for the third time (2005, 2006) won the NPF Regular Season Championship. The Thunder (18-30) finished the season in sixth place and will not be contending in the playoffs.
The Bandits led 2-1 when Lindsay Gardner tied the game at 2-2 when she scored on a wild pitch from third. The game went into extra innings and in the eight, Shanna Diller hit a three run blast for the Rockford. The Thunder went up 5-2.
"We definitely want to win every game," Findlay said. Sunday's game was not a must win for the Bandits because the team clinched the NPF's top seed the day before. "I didn't even know [that we wrapped up the NPF Regular Season title] and I don't think any of my teammates did either."
The Bandits scored the games first points in the second inning. Jamie Clark hit her NPF leading 12th double of the season and Samantha Findlay drove in Clark with a single in the right centerfield gap.
Aileen Morales gave Chicago a 2-0 advantage with her second home run of the season in the third inning. Sandy Vojik hit an RBI single for Rockford's first point and a 2-1 score.
Notes: Amanda Freed started the game, pitched the first two innings and came back in and got the win to go to 2-1…After Freed, Jessica Sallinger pitched three innings and Tracie Adix pitched two innings before giving way to Freed.