ROSEMONT – (May 31, 2018 ) Haylie Wagner built off an impressive 2017 campaign with a dominant outing in her first start of the 2018 season. Behind five shutout innings of from the southpaw, the Bandits earned a 9-0 season-opening victory over the newly-formed Cleveland Comets on Thursday night at Parkway Bank Sports Complex.
Wagner (W, 1-0), who ranked second in the NPF with 11 wins in her first year as a Bandit, helped secure an early lead for Chicago with an impressive performance in the circle. The former Michigan standout surrendered just two hits and struck out six to earn win No. 1 in 2018.
Wagner’s counterpart, rookie right-hander Devin Brown (L, 0-1), struggled in her first career start. The South Alabama product was tagged for seven runs across 4.2 innings of work.
After Courtney Gano marked her NPF debut with an RBI-single to open up the scoring, Bandits first baseman Megan Blank uncorked a three-run blast to the bleachers in right field to extend the early lead to 4-0, a lead plenty large enough to back Wagner’s effort.
Blank, batting sixth in the opening-day lineup, continued her excellent play in the sixth spot. Two of her three home runs and 11 of her 17 RBI came while batting in the six-hole during the 2017 season.
Veteran third baseman Natalie Hernandez added a two-run blast to left-center in the fifth to grow the advantage to 6-0.
Bandits newcomer Nadia Taylor collected a pair of RBI in her Chicago debut, one of three on the night for the team. Jessie Scroggins, the 15th overall selection in the 2018 draft, also delivered a single in her first professional at-bat.
Third-year right-hander Shelby Turnier and fourth-year right-hander Lacey Waldrop combined to close out the win, allowing just one batter to reach base.
The Bandits and Comets will be back in action for Game 2 of their four-game series at 7:35 p.m. Friday at Parkway Bank Sports Complex.
— The Bandits earned their fourth consecutive win in a series opener.
— Attendance: 800
About National Pro Fastpitch (NPF)
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 Aussie Spirit, Beijing Shougang Eagles, Chicago Bandits, Cleveland Comets, and USSSA Florida Pride for the 2018 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.