Lexi Jager posing pre-game, got propsed to and said YES following a great first game in a Bandits uniform. (Photo by Dina Kwit)
ROSEMONT, Ill. -- Rosemont Stadium opened Saturday night with a 10-0 Chicago Bandits victory over the Bloomington Lady Hearts in an exhibition contest.
The Bandits, wearing uniforms honoring the Chicago Colleens of the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League took an early 2-0 lead in the first inning. That was all the Bandits needed as starting pitcher Nikki Nemitz shut down the Lady Hearts, throwing three no-hit innings, allowing no runs while striking out five.
“It felt good to start out my season that way,” Nemitz said. “I knew my teammates had me. They played some good defense behind me.”
After Nemitz struck out the side in the top of the second, Chicago increased its lead, piling on six runs on four hits. Jamee Juarez led off the inning with a double. She later scored on a walk to Danielle Zymkowitz.
Alisa Goler broke the game open a batter later with a three-RBI single, scoring Kristen Shifflett, Robin Thompson and Zymkowitz, to go up 6-0. After a pair of walks to load the bases, Mariesha Marker grounded out to third, scoring Goler. One batter later Vicky Galindo would single and plate Amanda Williams to give the Bandits an 8-0 lead.
“Obviously I liked our pitching, it looked strong,” said Chicago head coach Darrick Brown. “Had a couple good offensive innings. A little drought as far as scoring goes there but we hit a lot of balls hard at people.”
Nemitz kept the momentum going in the top of the third, taking down the side in order. Taryne Mowatt relieved Nemitz in the fourth, giving up Bloomington’s first hit of the game, a single by infielder Courtney Martin.
Both teams traded zeros after second inning until rookie Alexi Jager hit the first home run in Rosemont Stadium history in the bottom of the sixth. Jager’s shot easily cleared the wall in right center, giving the Bandits a 9-0 lead.
“I’ve been working all week on going opposite way with pitches,” Jager said. “Finally the practice paid off.”
Jager was one of four players on May 28 to make the Chicago squad after tryouts. A senior at Western Michigan during the college season, Jager also shares some ties with her coach, making the home run special to him as well.
“I’m extremely proud of her,” Brown said. “She from my hometown, same high school, and for her to hit the first home run at the stadium is awesome. Everybody back home is going to be real proud of her and real excited when they hear about it.”
After a single and an error by Bloomington, Chicago threatened again with runners on the corners. Shannon Doepking hit a soft line drive that went just off the glove of Bloomington’s second baseman, scoring Marker to go up 10-0.
Juarez pitched the final two innings of the contest, allowing no runs, no hits, one walk to go along with six strikeouts.
Leading the Bandits at the plate Saturday was Jager, going 1-for-1 with a home run, a walk and a stolen base. Goler went 1-for-2 with three RBIs, while Rachel Folden walked and doubled.
Tammy Williams was 1-for-2 on the night with a single and stolen base before leaving with a sprained ankle. Brown doesn’t expect the shortstop to miss a great deal of time.
“She’s going to be alright, I think its just a sprain,” he said. “We’re going to go day-to-day and see how it feels.”
After the game the night became even more memorable for Jager. Her boyfriend of eight years, Joe Huizer, retrieved the home run ball and proposed to the left fielder at home plate. Huizer wrote “Will you marry me?” on the ball and placed the ring on top it. Jager said yes.