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Updated: September 2, 2013
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Copyright © 1997-2013
Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar
Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2013 by Marco Stoovelaar

USSSA Pride captures NPF-Championship title
ROSEMONT, Illinois (USA) - USSSA Pride captured the championship title in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) by winning the best-of-three final vs. Chicago Bandits, 2-1. It is the second NPF-title for the Pride, who also won the championship in 2010. Cat Osterman was named Most Valuable Player of the Series, which was played in Rosemont Stadium.

Chicago had finished the regular season in first place with a 36-12 record, while the Pride finished in second place (34-14). The two were followed in the ranking by Akron Racers (16-32) and NY NJ Comets (10-38).

On Friday, August 23, the Chicago Bandits opened the best-of-three Final Series with a 3-2 victory. Chicago took an early lead in the first inning when Eri Yamada tripled with one out and scored when a following grounder by Nerissa Myers ended in a throwing error by short stop Natasha Watley. That brought Myers to third base, but she stranded there, as a pop-fly and line-out followed.

In the fifth inning, the Pride came alongside when Natasha Watley singled with one out, stole second base, moved on a grounder and scored on a single by Kelly Kretschman. The latter also gave the Pride a 2-1 lead in the seventh inning when she singled in pinch-runner Nikia Williams.

Trailing 2-1, the Bandits then decided the game in the home half of the seventh inning after the Pride had left two runners in the top half. Pride-pitcher Keilani Ricketts walked lead-off hitter Tammy Williams, but followed with a strikeout. Next, 3B Haruna Sakamoto made a throwing error on a grounder by Amber Patton, which enabled Williams to score the tying run. The ball was thrown to catcher Megan Willis, who was unable to handle it and so Patton completed her trip around the bases to score the winning run.

Monica Abbott went the distance for Chicago and struckout nine batters.

On Saturday, USSSA Pride recovered and won Games 2 and 3 to win the championship.

In the first game, the Pride shutout the Bandits, 5-0. The Pride opened the score in the fourth inning with two outs. Kelly Kretschman then led off with a walk, but was forced out on a grounder by GiOnna DiSalvatore. The latter also was forced out on a grounder by Kristyn Sandberg, who then scored when Andrea Duran followed with a homerun.

In the sixth, three runs were added. With one out, Kretschman walked, then DiSalvatore singled. Next, Sandberg also singled, which was followed by an error in rightfield, leading to a run. A following single by Andrea Duran accounted for the next run, as did a single by pinch-hitter Keilani Ricketts.

Cat Osterman was the winning pitcher for the Pride. She struckout six and gave up only four hits.

In the second game of the day and the third and final game of the Series, the Pride took an early lead in the second inning on back-to-back doubles by Kristyn Sandberg and Andrea Duran. Chicago-pitcher Monica Abbott then gave up an one-out homerun to Sandberg in the fourth inning, which made it 2-0.

The Bandits got a run back in the home of the fourth when Eri Yamada doubled with one out and scored on a following single by Alisa Goler, but that was to be it for the Chicago-squad.

In the bottom of the fifth, the Bandits got the bases loaded with two outs. Pride-starter Keilani Ricketts (who struckout eight and gave up only three hits) was then relieved by experienced veteran Cat Osterman, who ended the inning with a strikeout.

In the bottom of the seventh inning, the game ended with a confrontation between Pitcher of the Year Cat Osterman and Player of the Year Megan Wiggins. Osterman struckout Wiggins to seal the win and the championship!

In the regular season, Wiggins was the Best Hitter with a .433 average and also led in Homeruns with 11, while finishing in second place with 35 Runs Batted In. Osterman led the pitchers with 234 strikeouts and shared first place with Monica Abbott with 17 victories. Both were 17-4. Osterman was second with an 1.06 ERA, behind Abbott, who finished with an 0.93 ERA.

(September 2)

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Copyright © 1997-2013 Marco Stoovelaar / Grand Slam * Stats & News.