And if Friday’s game is any indication, the weekend series will live up to all the hype.
Down 5-1 in the top of the sixth inning, it was defense that gave the Dawg offense life. A long fly ball off the bat of Megan Wiggins appeared to be enough for a two-run homer for the Pride, but centerfielder Allexis Bennett timed her leap perfectly to make the catch over the wall to rob Wiggins.
Bennett’s defensive gem fired up the offense, who responded with a run in the bottom half of the sixth to cut the lead to 5-2. Alisa Goler ripped a ball deep into the left center gap for the stand-up double. Pinch-runner Olivia Watkins scored when Hannah Flippen crushed a ball down the third base line for the triple and the RBI.
In the bottom of the seventh, Bennett this time used her bat to make some noise, lacing a double down the third base line to start the inning. Nerissa Myers then laid down the perfect bunt in front of home plate for a single that moved Bennett. Brittany Cervantes singled to left to score Bennett and cut the lead to 5-3. Cervantes has come on as of late and was 2-of-3 with two RBIs on Friday. Taylor Edwards got one of her two hits on the night to left to load the bases for the Dawgs.
But the Pride’s Jordan Taylor responded in a big way in the circle, getting three straight strikeouts to end the game. The former Michigan Wolverine grabbed the save for the Pride, allowing a hit and striking out three.
The Pride offense put pressure on the Dawgs immediately to start the game. Kelly Kretschman showed why she is at the top of the league offensively, guiding a ball into right field for a base hit. The NPF veteran and University of Alabama product used her speed to steal second to set the table for Sierra Romero. Romero singled to center to score Kretschman for the first run of the game. The Murietta, Calif. native grabbed RBI number 13 on the year.
Cervantes helped knot the game at 1-1 for the Dawgs. Myers’s one-out infield single got things rolling in the bottom of the first inning. The Petal, Miss. native scored all the way from first on Cervantes’s double that sailed to the left field wall. Edwards then lasered a ball to left, good enough for a single that advanced Cervantes to third. But Pride pitcher Angel Bunner battled back and got Meagan May-Whitley swinging and a ground out to strand Cervantes to end the threat.
Bunner got her first win of the year in the circle for the Pride, allowing one run on five hits and striking out three in 4.2 innings of work.
The Pride offense poured it on in the top of the fourth and it was Kretschman again who propelled the four-run rally. She drew the walk off Dawgs pitcher Miranda Kramer to get on board. Kramer got the three and four batters – Romero and Lauren Chamberlain – to fly out. But Shelby Pendley doubled to center to put a pair of runners on for Chelsea Goodacre. Goodacre responded by muscling a line drive down the first base line for two runs to extend the Pride lead to 3-1.
After Hallie Wilson’s own line drive down the first base line for a single, Andrea Duran ripped a double into the gap in left center to score Goodacre and Wilson to extend the Pride lead to 5-1.
Meanwhile, after the first inning, the Dawg offense struggled with Bunner until the bottom of the fifth inning. Bennett and Myers both singled for the first hits since that three-hit first inning. Myers and Bennett continue to be a thorn on side of opposing pitchers at the top of the order for the Dawgs – the duo accounted for five of the Dawgs 11 hits on the night.
Kramer took the loss in the circle for the Dawgs, allowing five runs on eight hits and striking out one in 3.1 innings of works. Hawkins and Morgan Foley didn’t allow a run in relief for the Dawgs.
The Dawgs and Pride face off again Saturday with a start time of 7:05p.m.
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The Scrap Yard Dawgs began competition in the National Pro Fastpitch league in 2016. The Dawgs provides elite softball players the opportunity to pursue a professional career and inspire the next generation of professionals. Located in the Houston area, the Dawgs organization and its players are committed to demonstrating leadership in community involvement, entertainment, and professionalism. Follow the Dawgs at www.scrapyarddawgs.com or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
National Pro Fastpitch (NPF), an Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball since 2004, provides elite female athletes with an opportunity to pursue a professional career in fastpitch softball beyond their collegiate and amateur success. The NPF affiliate teams consist of the Akron Racers, Beijing Shougang Eagles, Chicago Bandits, Scrap Yard Dawgs, Texas Charge and USSSA Florida Pride for the 2017 season. National Pro Fastpitch players hail from the United States, Australia, Canada and China among which are the most accomplished and talented athletes in the sport of women’s softball.