ROSEMONT, Ill. (July 20, 2019) — Rachele Fico holds the national record for perfect games by a high school pitcher with 26. She threw one as a college sophomore for LSU against Southeastern Louisiana in 2011.
This makes her no stranger to the moment when she came back out for the seventh inning Saturday night for the Bandits – she calmly retired the last three Aussie Peppers hitters to complete her first perfect game as a professional, leading Chicago to a 5-0 win and a series sweep. The Bandits have now won 13 straight games at home.
“It’s definitely a special thing every time it happens,” Fico said. “This one was really cool because I’ve never thrown one at the professional level before, but I just tried to stay mentally locked in throughout the game and my defense played incredibly behind me.”
Fico set the tone with a six-pitch first inning and recorded six of her first seven outs on the ground. Meanwhile, the Bandits gave her the lead right from the start. Amanda Chidester hit a two-run home run over the left-center field wall with two outs in the first inning to put Chicago in front.
“It was huge for [Chidester] to compete through that swing to be able to put it out,” Bandits Coach Lauren Lappin said. “It makes it easier to pitch six innings with the lead.”
The Bandits doubled their lead in the third after Gwen Svekis led off with a double and Brenna Moss singled her to third. Chidester singled to left to score Svekis, and although she was thrown out at second, Hannah Flippen kept the line moving with another hit to drive in Moss.
Chicago added one final run in the sixth on a single by Emily Crane and a run-scoring double by Courtney Gano. From there, it was all Fico.
The right-hander picked up her first strikeout of the night in the fourth and struck out the side in the fifth, finishing the game with six punchouts.
The ending was almost anticlimactic, with Fico retiring Leigh Godfrey on a grounder to second, Leah parry on a pop-up to first and Chelsea Forkin on a pop-up to shortstop, setting off a full-team celebration at the pitcher’s circle. It was the Bandits first perfect game since Monica Abbott threw one almost exactly four years ago, on July 23, 2015.
“As it got later in the game, I started to realize what was going on, but I just tried to stay focused and take it one pitch at a time,” Fico said. “It definitely is a really special feeling because I’ve never had one at this level before. It was a cool thing to be a part of.”
Chicago improved to 25-7 with the sweep, while the Peppers fell to 9-26. The Bandits will be back in action Friday, when they travel to Daytona Beach, Florida to open a series against the Beijing Eagles.
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 Peppers of Minnesota, Beijing Shougang Eagles, Canadian Wild of Southern Illinois, Chicago Bandits, Cleveland Comets, and USSSA Pride. National Pro Fastpitch players hail from the United States, Australia, Canada, China, and Mexico, and represent the most accomplished and talented athletes in the sport of women’s softball.