The action surrounding the NPF this weekend was nothing short of brilliant as the teams kicked off an exciting second week of the season. The season continued with the Bandits visiting the Diamonds in Kannapolis, North Carolina. The Bandits trip to Kannapolis notched a special occasion for the Diamonds marking the second time that a franchise has made its home in the Carolinas. The other series of the weekend sent the Racers to Whataburger Field in Corpus Christi, Texas for a series hosted by the Pride.
The weekend included one hitters by last years Co-Pitchers of the Year, Monica Abbott and Cat Osterman; as well as complete games by seven other NPF pitchers and late game batting heroics by the Racers’ Sam Marder and the Pride’s Natasha Watley.
For the second time in as many weeks, the Diamonds saw a loss in a series at 1-3 after winning the opening game, this time to the Bandits. The opening game of the series starred Katie Burkhart who threw one of many gems by NPF pitchers over the weekend. She went the full seven innings allowing only three hits and one earned run with six strikeouts. This would be her first of three appearances of the weekend that would see her throw sixteen innings of work. Diamond pitching wasn’t the only thing that shined in the opening game of the series as the Carolina bats went ablaze. GiOnna DiSalvatore, Rachel Folden, and Angeline Quiocho combined to go six for eight and accounted for all five of the runs batted in for the Diamonds with a home run by Quiocho clinching the opening series game 5-1. The rest of the series, however, belonged to the Bandits. In Monica Abbott’s return to the circle after no-hit ball, she threw a no-hitter into the sixth inning giving up a single to Jami Lobpries. The outing included seven innings pitched with only one hit, twelve strikeouts and a 2-0 shutout of the Diamonds. On the flip side of the circle in game two, Rookie Watch pitcher Angel Bunner had a veteran-like performance carrying a no-hitter into the fifth but eventually allowing only one earned run and giving up three hits in a full seven innings of work. The third and fourth games of the series saw more of Katie Burkhart who threw a combined 9 innings in a start and relief appearance respectively, making the Diamonds’ workhorse total sixteen innings pitched with five earned runs on ten hits and eighteen strikeouts for the weekend. Tammy Williams stepped up in the second game of the series going two for two with two walks and accounting for four of the eight total runs scored in the Bandits 8-3 game three win. In that game Abbott retook the circle to record her first of two saves in the weekend. The series concluded with a close 5-4 win by the Bandits, which included the second of two saves on the weekend by Abbott and a second of two homeruns for Diamonds infielder Angeline Quiocho.
The other series in NPF action took place at What-a-burger Field Home of the Minor League AA affiliate Corpus Christi Hooks in Corpus Christi, Texas. The series was one that saw close competition from both teams as three of the four games were decided by a single run. Game one featured the first two of six complete game gems thrown by NPF pitchers this series. Kristina Thorson of the Racers went six innings with seven hits, three earned runs and a strikeout, but was over-shadowed by a strong performance from the Pride’s Danielle Lawrie who went seven innings with five hits, two earned runs and nine strikeouts, which resulted in a 3-2 win for the Pride. The second game of the series featured the second of the weekend’s two one hit games. USSSA Pride’s Cat Osterman showed hitters that she was fully back from off-season surgery by throwing a one hit gem consisting of a solo home run by Sam Marder in the top of the fourth which would be her first of two on the weekend. Osterman went seven innings with one hit, one earned run and ten strikeouts in twenty-three batters faced resulting in the 7-1 game two win for the Pride.
The third game of the series was a home coming for a pitcher who threw yet another complete game, Corpus Christi’s Sarah Pauly. Pauly went seven innings giving up only four hits, two earned runs and six strikeouts. The homecoming was something of an appetizer for what would ensue in the final game of the series. Drama and heroics were not in short supply during the final game of the series when the pitchers duel was settled by homeruns by both teams late in the eighth inning. NPF Rookie pitcher Brittany Mack watched her no-hitter get broken up by a double by Brianna Hesson in the top of the seventh. After getting through the inning unscathed, Mack would proceed to go into extras and give up what would be the eventual game winning grand slam to Sam Marder, her second homerun of the weekend. Mack’s final line would be eight innings pitched with four hits, four earned runs and seven strikeouts. Kristina Thorson was also electric in the circle finishing up the complete game at eight innings pitched as well with seven hits, three earned runs and seven strikeouts. The Pride looked to have a chance in the bottom of the eighth. Natasha Watley delivered her comeback effort by blasting a three run homerun to bring the Pride within one on what was only Watley’s third career homerun, but Thorson eventually resettled to finish out the last two batters for the win and avoid the sweep of the series by the Pride.
NPF action continues this coming weekend with the celebration of the 40th anniversary of Title IX in Akron as the Racers host the Bandits. In Clermont, Florida, the Pride host the Diamonds in what should be a fun filled weekend of softball. Fans interested in following pitch-by-pitch can do so with several different options. Live streaming can be viewed on the NPF website, profastpitch.com, or by downloading the brand new NPF app available for both iPhone and Android OS. Additionally, fans can follow along through live stats provided by Pointstreak Technologies. A Pointstreak app can also be downloaded to personal computers and is available in the Google Play and Apple app stores. Finally, fans can follow their favorite team or the NPF on Twitter or Facebook for up to the minute updates on what’s going on in the game.
About National Pro Fastpitch:
National Pro Fastpitch is headquartered in Nashville, TN. The league, created to give elite female fastpitch players the opportunity to pursue a professional career in their chosen sport, has operated since 1997 under the names of Women’s Pro Fastpitch (WPF) and Women’s Pro Softball League (WPSL). NPF is the Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball in the category of women’s fastpitch softball since 2002.