Before we start what will become a very exciting year in Chicago Bandits history, let’s take a look back the top 10 moments of 2010.
10. Laura Harms inducted into Bradley Bourbonnais Hall of Fame
Chicago Bandits great Laura Harms was inducted into the Bradley Bourbonnais Hall of Fame in early 2010. Harms scored the first run in Chicago Bandits history in 2005 and was a solid fixture in the Bandits lineup for five seasons. A fan favorite, Harms retired after the final game of 2009.
9. Bandits nearly no-hit Riverhawks, lose in extras to Jackhammers
The popular Battle of the Sexes exhibition game returned in 2010 with two games, one against the Rockford Riverhawks in June and the second against the Joliet Jackhammers in August. The Riverhawks provided little competition for the Bandits’ pitching staff as they nearly no-hit the men’s independent baseball team en route to victory. However, later in the summer, the Jackhammers came ready to play, forcing the Bandits to extra innings and then taking the victory in stunning fashion.
8. Thorson out-pitches Monica Abbott, leads Bandits to 2-0 victory
Kristina Thorson pitched one of her best games of the season on July 16, throwing five innings of one-hit ball while striking out three and walking zero batters against Tennessee Diamonds ace Monica Abbott. Thorson’s solid performance in the circle and costly errors by the Diamonds sealed a 2-0 victory for the Bandits.
7. Bandits swap Kristina Thorson for Taryne Mowatt
In blockbuster offseason move, the Bandits and Akron Racers swapped pitchers, sending Thorson to Akron and bringing Taryne Mowatt to the Chicago Bandits.
6. Finch pitches perfect game versus Akron Racers
On July 9, 2010, the Bandits and Racers stormed in to Silver Cross Field in Joliet, Ill. (home of the former Joliet Jackhammers) to square off in the latest installment of a rivalry that saw both teams evenly matched and looking to take the lead in the NPF. Finch was electric, throwing seven innings of no-hit ball, guiding the Bandits to a victory over the Racers in the second perfect game of her career.
5. Nikki Nemitz drafted from Michigan, earns Rookie of the Year
With the first selection of the 2010 NPF draft, Chicago Bandits owner Bill Sokolis drafted University of Michigan pitching star Nikki Nemitz. The powerful left-hander pitched her way to a 7-2 record with 74 strikeouts and a 2.18 ERA. Her performance in the circle for the Bandits earned her the 2010 NPF Rookie of the Year honors.
4. Samantha Findlay blasts the Bandits into the Championships
Facing a 1-0 defecit in the bottom of the fifth against the Tennessee Diamonds, Samantha Findlay stepped to the plate with bases loaded. With one swing of the bat, Findlay blasted a grand slam over the fence, giving the Bandits a 4-1 lead that would carry Chicago into the Championship round of the NPF playoffs in Sulphur, La. The Bandits would eventually be knocked out of the playoffs by the champion USSSA Pride.
3. Bandits travel to Texas, set attendance records and make a wish come true
Traveling around the country was a secondary theme for the Bandits in 2010 as the team played exhibition games and regular season games in Salem, Va., Omaha, Neb., Lubbock, Texas and Round Rock, Texas. Chicago opened the season in Lubbock, Texas against the USSSA Pride. The series featured an intense battle between the teams and a televised matchup on ESPN2. The Bandits ended up winning the series 3-2 to start the year.
While in Lubbock, Rachel Folden and the Bandits made the dream of Katie Gutierrez come true, honoring her as an official Bat Girl while in Lubbock.
Later in the season the Bandits traveled to Texas again, facing off with the Pride at the Dell Diamond - home of the Round Rock Express - in Round Rock, Texas. The Bandits and Pride battled back and forth again, but achieved a more notable result from the series when the Saturday matchup drew the highest attendance ever at a National Pro Fastpitch game with over 5,000 fans in the seats.
2. Stacy May, Jennie Finch announce retirements
No one player has meant more to the Chicago Bandits in their history than Stacy May. The consummate leader on the field at third base and lead off hitter in the lineup, two-time league MVP Stacy May hung up the cleats after the 2010 season, ending her historic career. May earned MVP honors in 2008 while leading Chicago to their only World Championship thus far in team history and again this past season in 2010.
Softball icon Jennie Finch shocked the sports world in late July when she announced her plans to retire from USA Softball and professional competition. The softball star has meant so much to sport, bringing it more notoriety and paving the way for millions of girls across the country to play softball. Signed by the Bandits in the fall of 2004, Finch started her career with a 14-0 record in 2005. After six seasons, two perfect games and countless highlights, Finch ended her pitching career with her final regular season game on August 22, 2010 with the Chicago Bandits.
1. A stadium blooms from the city of Rosemont on 27 Jennie Finch Way
By far the biggest and best story of the year in 2010 for the Chicago Bandits was the announcement of a new, permanent home and stadium to be built in Rosemont, Ill. The $6 million stadium is being constructed east of O’Hare Airport and was all made possible by Mayor of Rosemont, Bradley A. Stephens and his dream to make Rosemont an entertainment capital of Illinois. Stephens announced the new home of the Bandits would reside at 27 Jennie Finch Way in honor of the softball icon for her achievements and accomplishments on and off the field for the sport of softball. The exact date of Opening Day 2011 will be announced following the new year, but the stadium will be ready for the Chicago Bandits in 2011.
. . . Happy New Year!
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