After the franchises first two no-hitters the two previous nights, the Chicago Bandits would have to turn in an impressive performance to top the excitement of the first half of the series. While the no-hit streak was ended in the second, the Bandits defense turned in an incredible showing, putting together three double plays on the evening, maintaining a 1-0 victory for Chicago.
Lindsay Chouinard picked up the win for the Bandits, going six innings, allowing only four hits and one walk. Chouinard only struck out one, but the stellar defense anchored by third baseman Vicky Galindo did its part.
Both teams were retired in order in the first inning, but things got hairy for the home team in the top of the second. After Chouinard induced a Germaine Fairchild fly out to left, Julie Brooks ripped a ball through the circle. Chouinard deflected the oncoming grounder and second baseman Anne Steffan was unable to make a play on the careening ball, allowing Brooks to pick up the first hit for the Brakettes in the series.
Stratford right fielder Denise Denis came up next and bunted back toward Chouinard. The pitcher fielded the bunt and fired to Steffan covering first. Her throw tailed back down the line and Steffan was unable to catch it resulting in an error that put two runners on.
Just as the defense had allowed to runners to reach, the defense ended the inning on the next at bat with an impressive play. First baseman Callie Piper ripped a grounder to Chicago Galindo. The ball was moving toward the line, which allowed the former Cal All-American to quickly step on third and fire to Jennie Finch at first for the inning-ending double play.
The Bandits were erased in the home half of the second and in the top third, Chicago had to again rely on an exceptional defensive effort to thwart a potential Stratford scoring opportunity.
The Brakettes put their first batter on, via a walk to second baseman Erica Sobel. Shortstop Kim Ovittore was up next and smashed another grounder to Galindo. The third baseman fielded and fired to Steffan covering second. The Nebraska alum recorded the force and relayed the ball to Finch at first, for the teams second double play in as many innings.
In the bottom of the frame, the Bandits got their first hit of the night, when left fielder Laura Harms drove a ball into centerfield. However, as the Bandits defense had in the previous two innings, the Brakettes used a double play to get out of a jam.
Steffan took to the box with one on and one out, and with two of the teams fastest runners involved, Chicago looked to put on a play. After taking a strike and fouling off a ball, Steffan put herself in a quick hole.
Understanding the situation, Malerich pitched out hoping to catch Harms stealing, but to no avail.
With the Brakettes unlikely to pitch out twice in a row, Harms took off on the next offering, and was already at second when she realized that Steffan had swung, popping up to Ovittore, who had plenty of time to flip to first to record the twin-killing.
Still scoreless in the bottom of the fourth, Galindo earned a leadoff walk, and Bouck sacrificed her to second.
After a strikeout by Bandit shortstop Jaime Clark, Finch strolled to the plate. Malerich was trying to avoid giving Chicagos cleanup batter anything to hit, but got two early strikes on the Arizona alum. On a check-swing, the catcher Fairchild appealed a called ball, and while she was distracted, Galindo helped herself to third, her second stolen base of the year.
On the very next pitch from Malerich, Finch drove a ball over the head of right fielder Denis, who had pinched in to set up a potential play at the plate. The ball hit and carried to the fence, allowing Galindo to score easily, and Finch to motor around to third, giving the Bandits a 1-0 lead after four complete.
The defensive clinic continued for the Bandits in the top of the fifth. With one down, Piper singled to left-center, with Sobel up next.
The Brakette second baseman bounced one back to Chouinard in the circle. The pitcher collected the ball, spun, and tossed to Clark covering second. The former Washington Huskie then threw on to first, recording the third double play for the Bandits on the evening, ending the inning.
After Kate Varde struck out while pinch-hitting for Steffan, Galindo perfectly placed a ball behind short, to reach base for the second straight time. Bouck, up next, sacrificed Galindo to second for the second time in as many at bats. But, a Jaime Clark pop out ended the inning.
Amy Harre, came in to close out the seventh, and induced two groundouts to Galindo and one to Clark around a single by Denis to record the save, her second of the season.
The win was Chouinards second of the year, and the six innings are her longest outing of the season.
With the victory, the Bandits moved their shut out streak to 29 innings, dating back to their 6-5 victory over the Arizona Heat on June 25th.
Jennie Finch will look to capitalize on her first professional no-hitter on Friday when she takes to the circle again Sunday afternoon. She will be opposed by Kaci Clark for the Brakettes.
The Bandits and the Brakettes will finish their series on Sunday at 12:00 PM. Call 1-877-7BANDIT or Ticketmaster for all Chicago Bandits ticket needs
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