Rosemont, Ill. (August 15, 2019) – The USSSA Pride won the first game of the NPF Championship Series 3-0 over the Chicago Bandits behind a strong pitching from their pitching staff on Thursday.

National Pro Fastpitch Pitcher of the Year Jolene Henderson got the start for the Pride and pitched 3 innings with no runs allowed on only 4 baserunners. While Henderson was efficient to start the game, it was Jailyn Ford who was the standout performer in relief. Taking over for Henderson in the fourth inning, Ford pitched 4 shut-out innings. In the process, Ford only allowed 1 baserunner while striking out 9 of the 13 batters she faced.

Despite the strong pitching from the Pride, Bandits starter Rachele Fico was able to keep them in the game with some strong pitching of her own. In 5.2 innings pitched, Fico allowed 2 runs on 4 hits while managing to strike out 4 batters of her own. 

The Pride scored their first run off of Fico in the third inning. Allexis Bennett got things started for the Pride with a leadoff single before advancing to second base on a sacrifice bunt from Sydney Romero. After Fico struck out the next batter Kirsti Merritt, Shelby Pendley hit a hard ground ball to a diving Courtney Gano at first base. While Pendley was able to beat out the play at first base, Bennett scored in the process to give the Pride a 1-0 lead.

Later on in the sixth inning, the Pride continued to add to their lead. With 2 outs in the inning, Kelly Kretschman hit a line drive towards the gap between left and center field which resulted in a double. With Danielle O’Toole coming in to relieve Fico, Shay Knighten hit a single to bring in another run for the Pride. Bianka Bell followed Knighten up with another single to bring in another run, extending the Pride’s advantage to 3-0. 

The Pride and Bandits will face off again for game 2 of the NPF Championship Series on Sunday, August 16th at 7:00 C.T. at Parkway Bank Sports Complex in Rosemont, IL.


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.

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