ROSEMONT — Kristyn Sandberg’s first-inning grand slam ignited a five-run opening frame and the Chicago Bandits claimed an 8-2 win over the Aussie Spirit on Saturday night at Parkway Bank Sports Complex.
The blast, which marked Sandberg’s fourth of the 2018 season, provided plenty of offensive support to a combined effort from rookie right-hander Aleshia Ocasio, veteran Shelby Turnier and rookie southpaw Paige Lowary.
Ocasio delivered a three-inning performance in the circle to begin her professional career and allowed just one baserunner while striking out three. The former Florida standout settled for a no-decision in her NPF debut.
Turnier (2-0) continued to excel in a relief role and collected her second victory of the season after two innings of work out of the bullpen. The third-year right-hander maintained her spotless ERA, surrendering no runs on two hits.
Lowary, whom the Bandits selected No. 1 overall in the 2018 NPF Draft, closed out the win with a pair of innings. A 2017 national champion at Oklahoma, the Dallas Center, Iowa, product allowed a two-run home run to former Bandits catcher Taylah Tsitsikronis, but struck out five in an impressive debut.
Bandits left fielder Brenna Moss contributed a three-hit night, including her first home run since the 2015 campaign. The fourth-year pro from Fresno State launched a two-run shot into the right field bleachers in the second to put the game out of reach at 7-0. Moss finished 3-for-4 with two RBI and three runs scored to raise her average to .514 on the season.
The Bandits, winners of seven straight contests against the Spirit, will continue their three-game set against their Aussie opponents with a Father’s Day doubleheader beginning at 3:05 p.m. Sunday at Parkway Bank Sports Complex. Both games will be broadcast via NPFTV.
— Attendance: 1,161
— Vaultz Lock it Up! Player of the Game: Kristyn Sandberg (1-for-1, GS, 4 RBI)
— Parkway Bank Sports Complex played host to four Olympians on the diamond at once as former U.S. standouts Dani Tyler, Stacey Nuveman Deniz (Bandits head coach) and Lauren Lappin (Bandits asst. coach) were joined by four-time Australian Olympian Mel Roche for ceremonial first pitches.
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.
Photo credit: Dina Kwit, courtesy of National Pro Fastpitch