After a week of pitching dominance, the bats around the NPF awoke from their slumber. The third week of action in the NPF showed us how powerful the league can be and took the stage along with Title IX celebrations. This week marked the 40th anniversary of the act passed by congress allowing female sports among other areas, equal representation in all levels of athletics. Teams were more than ready to celebrate with a bang.
The week saw fourteen different players hit a total of 18 home runs over the course of three days of action. Even the elite pitchers were not immune to the home run bug as five of the eighteen homers were given up by 2011 Co-Pitchers of the Year Monica Abbott and Cat Osterman. Rookies got in on the action notching their first NPF hits as Lexy Bennett and Amy Hooks both recorded their first official NPF hit a home run each. The ball seemed to be flying out of the park. So in a week in which pitching took a break, the NPF helped celebrate Title IX’s anniversary with some fireworks of their own.
Tuesday the 19th started off the action with the only game of the week to see neither team get above three runs. Monica Abbott took the circle and threw yet another beauty. She went the full seven giving up only two runs with zero earned, no walks and fourteen strikeouts in the 2-0 shutout win to open the week. The second game at The Ballpark at Rosemont on the 20th would see the Racers take charge of the bats. The Racers would combine to have eleven runs on eleven hits. Brianna Hesson went two for two with two walks, three runs scored, and two doubles and would combine with Taylor Schlopy, Kelley Montalvo, Lisa Modglin, Kaylyn Castillo, and Nicole Pauly to hit nine for nineteen (.474) with six doubles, nine runs scored, and five RBI’s in the 11-1 rout of the Bandits. In the circle, Kristina Thorson took care of business for the Racers allowing one earned run on five hits with two walks and six strikeouts in six innings of work.
On the 21st, the weekend would start with a double header that would feature the Carolina Diamonds visiting the USSSA Florida Pride. Again the bats would shine as the Pride’s Andrea Duran would be a double shy of hitting for the cycle going three for three with three runs scored and three runs batted in. Ashley Charters went two for three with two runs scored, four RBI’s and a two-run home run while Charlotte Morgan added a one for four performance with two RBI’s and a two run home run. The group combined to go six for ten (.600) with three homers, seven runs scored and all nine of the Pride’s RBI’s. The Diamonds had their best game of the series as Katie Burkhart pitched all six innings giving up thirteen runs, nine earned, on eleven hits with five walks and six strikeouts. Diamond’s GiOnna Disalvatore added a two for four day with one RBI in the 13-5 Pride victory. The second game of the double header saw the Pride win a duel between Rookie Watch pitchers, USSSA’s own Brittany Mack and Carolina’s Angel Bunner. Despite taking the 7-1 loss, the Diamonds rookie, Bunner, went six innings and gave up seven runs, only four earned runs, on eight hits and five walks with three strikeouts. The Pride’s LSU alum, Brittany Mack would go a complete seven innings and allow just four hits, giving up one unearned run with a single, walk, and ten strikeouts to add to her already impressive rookie campaign. The June 23rd match-up saw the Pride’s Cat Osterman in the circle against the Diamonds’ workhorse Katie Burkhart. The game was much kinder for Osterman, but she still surrendered two solo home runs to the Diamonds’ Amy Hook and Bianca Mejia. Osterman’s final line was seven innings pitched, yielding two earned runs off three hits with three walks and twelve strikeouts. Ten Pride batters would connect in the game to total fifteen hits and secure a 10-2 victory. The final game of the double header became the second home run derby of the week as four different players would hit home runs. The Carolina Diamonds’ GiOnna DiSalvatore would launch a ball deep in the top of the first to give the Diamonds a lead and also give Pride pitcher Danielle Lawrie her only earned run of the day. Lawrie would go seven innings on three hits giving up the lone earned run to DiSalvatore. Lawrie had no walks and eleven strikeouts. Pride bats would erupt one final time, as Jamee Juarez would join the fun with a one hit day, a grand slam. Kelsey Bruder went one for three with a two-run home run, and Kristyn Sandberg went two for four with a two-run home run as well. The Pride would complete the sweep with an 11-1 win over the Diamonds.
Title IX was celebrated with a weekend of the bat. A total of twelve home runs would be hit on the 40th anniversary of Title IX. Heroics would be witnessed; players and icons would be honored, as this anniversary of a day in sports history would be remembered in the best of fashions. The Bandits played visitor to the Racers in Akron in what would be a special night for softball. Monica Abbott took her second start of the week throwing a full seven innings. She would finish with the win but not before giving up seven runs, all earned, on nine hits with two walks and only six strikeouts. As a side note, in Abbott’s 2011 campaign she allowed a total of only three home runs for the entire year. She would give up that number of home runs in this single outing versus Akron. On the other side of the circle, Racers pitcher Lisa Norris carried a 3-1 Racer advantage into the top of the fifth. From there everything would unravel, as the Bandits strung together an eight run top half of the inning. The Bandits’ Amanda Williams started the rally against Norris with a double. Nikki Nemitz then came to bat and launched the first of two home runs in the inning tying the game at 3. Norris then proceeded to give free passes to both Vicky Galindo and Megan Wiggins. These walks would prove hazardous as Amber Patton would strike with a single to score Galindo and extend the Bandits rally. Norris would surrender the third walk of the inning to Alisa Goler thus ending her night, leaving the bases loaded for the Bandits’ Kristen Butler. Racers would bring in Jen Mineau in relief who would serve up a base clearing grand slam to Butler. Brittany Cervantes would eventually reach on a fielder’s choice, which would be Cervantes’ second at-bat of the inning. Amanda Williams also appeared for the second time in the inning and doubled to score Cervantes making the margin 9-3 Bandits after four and a half innings. The Racers’ Taylor Schlopy, however, began a rally of her own as she hit the second of three home runs given up by Abbott on the night. The three-run homer would make the deficit 9-6. In the bottom of the sixth, Nicole Pauly would hit the final of the twelve Title IX home runs on Saturday, and was the final threat the Racers would make as the Bandits went on to win the game 9-7. The series and weekend wrapped up on the 24th, as the Racers looked for revenge on the Bandits. Kristen Butler and the Bandits’ bats would have nothing of it. Butler would come to bat in the top of the first inning launching her second home run in as many days driving in three, and making the early Bandits lead. Butler came to bat again in the second inning and again sent another home run flying, this time a two-run bomb. Butler finished the game three for five with two home runs and six RBI’s. Amber Patton joined in with a three for five day, two runs scored and two walks. Vicky Galindo added two runs scored on a three for four day, and Alisa Goler finished with two RBI’s and one run scored in a two for five outing. The group combined to go eleven for nineteen (.579) with eight RBI’s and seven runs scored as the Bandits as a whole had a league leading week that included eighteen hits in the 8-5 series finale. Nicole Pauly hit the second of her two home runs for the Racers on Sunday in a strong weekend, but Kristen Butler had an unbelievable weekend for the Bandits going four for nine (.444) with three home runs and ten RBI’s in two games to finish the weekend.
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. www.profastpitch.com