NASHVILLE, Tenn. (June 18, 2010) _ The USSSA Pride jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning and then held on for a 6-5 win over the Tennessee Diamonds Friday night.
The Pride features seven former Olympians. Diamonds coach Ernie Reynolds was proud of the way his team battled, though he was disappointed with the final result.
“We are not conceding anything in terms of talent or skill,” Reynolds said. “We can take away from this game that we were one pitch or one play from winning the game.”
Approximately 552 fans, the largest crowd of the season, crammed into Draper Diamond on the Lipscomb University campus for the National Pro Fastpitch game.
The Pride added a pair of runs in the fifth as Jessica Mendoza slammed a two-run homer over the 220-foot sign in dead center field. Also scoring was Caitlin Lowe who had reached base on a double to left field.
Diamonds pitcher Megan Gibson hit a solo shot to dead center, also over the 220 sign to lead off the fifth inning. Shannon Doepking, who had reached base on a fielder’s choice, scored when Pride pitcher Katie Burkhart threw the ball away at first base as Jenna Rhodes reached base on a single. Shanel Scott hit a ground ball single down the third base line to score Rhodes. Scott scored when Chelsea Spencer hit a shot that went off the glove of the second baseman.
Rhodes opened the seventh with a single and advanced to third as Osterman threw the ball into right field. Scott also connected for an infield hit. Osterman threw the ball away on the play allowing Rhodes to score to trim the Pride lead to one run.
“This team has a lot of character,” Reynolds said. “If they get punched, they are going to punch back. We compete on every pitch and in every inning.”
Cat Osterman, also a left-hander, closed out the fifth. The Diamonds sent 10 batters to the plate in the inning.
Gibson, a right-hander, went the distance for the Diamonds. She allowed six runs on eight hits. She walked five and struck out four.
“Megan did a great job,” Reynolds said. “She helped us offensively.
“Megan was a leader on the field and in the dugout. Our players responded to her. We checked on her every inning and every time she wanted the ball.”
In 4.2 innings Burkhart allowed six hits and four runs. She walked one and struck out five. Osterman gave up two hits and one run in 2.1 innings. She also struck out two batters.
Both teams finished with eight hits.
The start of the game was delayed approximately 25 minutes due to a rain storm that also included some lightning.
The two teams will play again Saturday with the first game at 2 p.m. and the second game at 7. The series ends Sunday with a single game at 2.
DIAMOND GEMS: Both Mendoza and Hayward drove in two runs for the Pride. …The Pride had three players, Hayward, Lowe and Mendoza, hit doubles in the game. …Gibson’s home run was the only extra base hit for the Diamonds. …Mendoza led the Pride with three hits and Rhodes paced the Diamonds with three hits.