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Brakettes Blank Thunder, 8-0

STRATFORD, CT- Sarah Pauly pitched a one-hitter and the Connecticut Brakettes unleashed an 11-hit attack Saturday to score an 8-0 victory over the Texas Thunder at Frank DeLuca Hall of Fame Field in National Pro Fastpitch action. Before a crowd of 1,180 the Brakettes won their fourth straight game against the Thunder to improve to 15-7 on the year. The Thunder fell to 14-13.

Jessica Merchant and Kelly Kretschman both homered for the Brakettes, who will host the Thunder Sunday at 5:05 p.m. in the series finale. Saturday’s game was taped and will be televised Thursday, July 20 on ESPN2 at 8 p.m. (EDT).

Pauly (8-3) allowed only two Thunder batters to reach base. She struck out four and did not walk a batter. It was her second straight victory of the series as she blanked Texas 1-0 on Thursday night.

"You couldn’t ask for a better effort," said Connecticut Brakettes manager John Stratton. "Sarah was simply superb and the offense really was working today. It was a great overall effort."

After Pauly retired the Thunder in order to start play, the Brakettes reached loser Christa Williams (8-3) for two runs in the bottom of the first inning. With two out, Kellie Wilkerson lined a single to center field. Merchant then hit a shot to the right center field gap. Kristen Zaleski made a great diving attempt but couldn’t hold onto the ball as Wilkerson scored and Merchant cruised in with a triple. Williams was working Germaine Fairchild carefully, but she then uncorked a wild pitch that scored Merchant for a 2-0 lead.

Connecticut blew the game wide open with a five-run fourth inning. Merchant opened the scoring with a 250-foot home run to left center field leading off the frame. After Fairchild walked, Stephanie Best, who had three hits in the game, dropped a bunt single. Stephanie Hill then moved both base-runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt.

Julie Brooks’ sacrifice fly to center plated Fairchild for a 4-0 lead before Callie Piper drew a walk. Kretschman, who assumed the league batting lead with a three-hit effort, then greeted Williams with a three-run home run to right center field for a 7-0 lead. Serena Settlemier relieved Williams and she worked the final two and one-third innings for Texas. Settlemier walked Denise Denis before getting Wilkerson on a ground out to end the inning.

Pauly retired the Thunder in order through four frames before Danyele Gomez led off the fifth inning with a sharp single to center. However, Pauly then got Nina Lindenberg on a fly ball to left before Clare Burnum fouled out to Piper and Karrie Rider flew out to center field. Adrian Gregory reached on a leadoff error in the sixth inning, but Pauly retired the next six Texas batters.

The Brakettes’ final run came in the sixth as Kretschman singled with one out and scored on Aimee Minor's RBI triple.