On a picture perfect late spring evening in Lisle, Illinois, the Chicago Bandits were victorious in the series opener against the Chinese National Team, 1-0, due to the late-inning heroics of Lindsey Hamma and Kate Varde.
While starting pitcher Lauren Bay dominated the Chinese lineup for the majority of the game, it was Varde who singled in Hamma to earn the victory for the Bandits.
Chicago got its first base runner of the night when centerfielder Megan Ciolli doubled to left with two outs in the bottom of the second inning. Ciolli saw the ball bounce underneath the glove of a sliding leftfielder Miao Ruiying, and aggressively rounded second. However, centerfielder Jiang Xin raced behind Ruiying to collect the ball and fired it behind Ciolli, who was tagged out while trying to scamper back to the bag.
Ciolli finished with two hits on the game.
Bay mowed down the Chinese opposition early on, striking out six through the first three innings.
In the bottom of the third inning, again the Bandits threatened. Right fielder Varde led off with a sharply hit single to right, and was advanced on a Laura Harms sacrifice bunt.
Second baseman Liz Bouck recorded a two-out infield single to move Varde to third, but Ciolli ended the inning when she blasted a ball off the glove of Qi and the pitcher was able to recover and toss the ball to first in time to record the out and end the threat.
Bouck finished the night with one hit in three plate appearances.
In the top of the fourth inning, Yi reached on a Bouck error giving the Chinese National Team put first base runner since a first inning walk. Catcher Pan Xia followed with a hard hit ball to Bouck who was bulldozed by Yi. The umpires cited Yi for interference, and Bouck collected herself and tossed the ball to first to record a double play.
After the Candian national team pitcher had dominated for the Bandits, Chinese second baseman Sun Li broke up Bays no-hit bid in the top of the sixth inning when an unconventional hop evaded the glove of third baseman Haley Viefhaus.
Ruiying followed with a sacrifice bunt to move Li to second. The Chinese Team tried to repeat the success of the last batter when Yi popped up her sacrifice attempt, and Bandit catcher Selena Collins recorded the out. After Li moved to third on a passed ball, Xia grounded out to Harms at short to end the inning.
In the bottom of the sixth, the Bandits recorded back-to-back infield singles to shortstop. Ciolli beat the throw by Li Chunxia, and Chicago first baseman Christina Enea didnt draw a throw on her bouncer to the left side hole, but Collins popped out to second to end the game.
In the top of the seventh, Xin Minhong led off with a single for the Chinese National Team, but after a Liu Hongqi pop up to Enea at first, Bay struck out two to end the inning.
In the nights final frame, designated player Lindsey Hamma drew a lead off walk. With Viefhaus at the plate, Hamma stole second and the throw from Xia glanced off the glove of shortstop Chunxia and rolled into center, allowing Hamma to move to third.
After Viefhaus grounded back to the pitcher, Varde ripped a single back through the box to plate Hamma and claim the game for the Bandits.
Varde finished the night with a pair of hits, and the games lone RBI.
With the win, the Bandits move to 7-2 on the young season, and sit in second place in the NPF standings.
The Bandits and China will play game two of their four-game set on Friday at 7:00 PM. Call 1-877-7BANDITS or Ticketmaster for all Chicago Bandits ticket needs.
For the most up-to-date information on the Chicago Bandits, live stats, and internet radio broadcasts during all home games, visit the Official Website of the Chicago Bandits, www.ChicagoBandits.com