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Nicole Pauly sparks Bandits offense for 7-2 game two victory

Palatine, Ill native Nicole Pauly sparks Bandits offense for 7-2 game two victory
Game three set to start at 5:20 p.m. CT

Sulphur, La. -- Down 1-0 in the series and in game two of the National Pro Fastpitch Championship Series, Palatine, Ill. native and Chicago Bandits rookie Nicole Pauly stepped up big with her best game of her rookie season, going 3-for-3 in the batters box.

Pauly’s solo home run in the top of the fifth sparked a three-run inning for the Bandits, and Chicago would not stop there, adding four more runs in the top of the seventh. The 7-1 lead gave pitcher Jennie Finch all the insurance she would need, closing out the Pride in game two with a complete game victory. In seven innings of work, she faced 24 batters, striking out nine, walking zero and allowing two runs on four hits. Both runs were home runs for the USSSA Florida Pride.

With Amber Patton on third base and two outs, Chicago Bandits first baseman Samantha Findlay stepped to the plate to square off against Florida’s Danielle Lawrie in the top of the first inning. Ahead 1-2 in the count, Lawrie caught Findlay swinging on an inside curve for the final out, ending the Bandits scoring threat.

After a bang-bang play at first base put Natasha Watley aboard safely, Bandits’ catcher Ashley Holcombe backed up her pitcher by gunning down Watley at second base on the attempted steal. The throw, a laser beam to the bag, barely beat Watley for the second out of the inning.

With Emily Friedman on second base and Nicole Pauly on first, the Bandits placed runners in scoring position for the second straight inning. Chicago could not capitalize however, as Vicky Galindo smacked a pop up to Kretschman in centerfield for the final out of the second inning.

Stacy May opened the third inning with a blooper, just past the outstretched glove of Pride second baseman Amber Flores to right field, advancing to second base for the leadoff double. Rachel Mitchell (pinch running for May) moved to third base when Amber Patton grounded out to Watley at short. Just 60 feet from home, Mitchell waited as Samantha Findlay stepped up to bat with two outs. Mitchell will stay there as for the second consecutive inning, Danielle Lawrie and the Pride forced the Bandits to leave runners stranded on the base paths.

Wheeling and dealing from the pitchers circle, Lawrie kept Bandits hitters guessing through the fourth inning where she spent the inning by going 1-2-3 against Chicago hitters. Through four innings and 16 batters faced, Lawrie kept the Bandits to just four hits, zero walks and has sent four back to the dugout with strikeouts.

With zeros on the scoreboard in the top of the fifth inning, Chicago Bandits’ rookie Nicole Pauly launched a solo home run over the left field fence, scoring the first run of the ballgame to give Chicago a 1-0 lead in game two of the NPF Championship Series. Two batters later, Stacy May popped a triple to right field when the sliding Alissa Haber could not come up with the ball, allowing May to reach third with one out.

A hard grounder up the middle by Amber Patton brought May home for the 2-0 Bandits lead with two outs. Two batters later and with Rachel Folden on first after a single, Samantha Findlay stepped in to square off with Lawrie. Findlay came up huge with a double to right centerfield to score Caitlin Lever (pinch running for Folden) from second base for a 3-0 lead.
Lawrie once again buckled down in the circle, getting Jennie Finch out on a called strike three to end the inning.

Florida rookie Alissa Haber broke the shutout in the bottom of the fifth when she blasted a solo home run to right field. Bandits outfielder Patton attempted to catch the ball, but crashed through the fence unsuccessfully. The solo home run closed the scoring gap to 3-1 in favor of the Bandits.

In the top of the seventh, Chicago added some insurance for Finch when May, Patton, Knauer (pinch running for Samantha Findlay) and Angela Findlay all scored runs. Angela Findlay scored the final run of the inning with a solo blast to deep centerfield, giving the Bandits a 7-1 lead.

Facing a game three, Pride outfielder Kelly Kretschman tried to spark the Florida offense for a seventh inning rally. Her solo home run closed the scoring gap to 7-2, but the Pride could gather any more runs as Finch struck out Haber to end the inning.

Lawrie finished the seven inning game with 34 batters faced, 12 hits, seven runs, one walk and seven strikeouts. She threw 138 pitches on the day.

Notes: Prior to today’s ballgame, four parachuters flew down from the sky dressed in Jennie Finch (CHI), Stacy May (CHI), Chelsea Spencer (TEN) and a National Pro Fastpitch Championship Series jerseys. The parachuters donned  jerseys of the three players because each will be retiring at the conclusion of the 2010 playoffs.

In yesterday’s release we mentioned the pre-game ceremony for Jennie Finch. It was left out that the NPF has created a new award that will be handed out at the end of each season, beginning with the 2011 season. The “Jennie Finch” award will be awarded for the player that best exemplifies character, humility overall excellence.