2012 National Pro Fastpitch Season Off to Impressive Start

posted by anngaff, a Women Talk Sports blogger
Wednesday, June 13, 2012 at 10:57am EDT

About anngaff:

Chief Technical Officer, Women Talk Sports. I competed in Track & Field and Cross-Country in college at the University of Nebraska and competed professionally in Track & Field (3000m Steeplechase) fr...more

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Megan Wiggins grabs a ball from home run territory

Photo: Megan Wiggins (Chicago Bandits) catches Kesley Bruder's (Pride) almost-home run. Photo courtesy of NPF

via release:

This weekend the best women’s softball players in the world gathered together to begin the 2012 National Pro Fastpitch season. The season began with the Carolina Diamonds unveiling their redesigned uniforms before they took on the Akron Racers at Firestone Stadium. This being their first season in Carolina it makes sense that the team would want a bit of a change. As the season kicked off in Ohio, the Pride took on the Chicago Bandits in the Ballpark at Rosemont, home of the Chicago Bandits.

The Diamonds had an impressive start to their first series defeating the Racers on opening day 7-3. Bianca Mejia scored an early grand slam for the Diamonds allowing them to take an immediate lead. In the fourth inning it looked as if the Racers had a chance to get back in the game when Aja Paculba hit a home run with the bases loaded, but what should have been a grand slam was nullified when runners crossed while making their way around the diamond. This resulted in a unique scoring phenomenon that turned Paculba’s grand slam into a three-run home run. After the Paculba homerun, the Racers just couldn’t get the ball rolling and the Carolina Diamonds marked their first victory of the season. Although the Diamonds put forward a strong performance on opening day, they couldn’t keep the momentum going and the Racers took the rest of the series, 3-1. Paculba was an obvious standout with her “almost” grand slam in game one and ended the weekend going 5 for 12, with 3 R, 1 HR, and 7 RBIs. A notable rookie performance came from Hillary Bach who relieved in game one pitching 3 innings and yielding 5 hits and 1 run. She was the starter and winner in game three putting fourth a 7-inning effort on 2 hits and 0 runs. The former Arizona State Sun Devil and member of the 2010 NCAA Women’s College World Series Championship team at ASU is off to an impressive start and finished the weekend with 10 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, and a complete game shutout.

The USSSA Pride faced off against the Chicago Bandits for the first time since the Bandits took home the Championship Series trophy last year. The Bandits looked strong winning the series, 3-1, but the Pride didn’t go down without a fight. On the first night of the series the Bandits unveiled their 2011 Championship Banner and also retired the numbers of previous Bandits Laura Harms and Stacy May-Johnson. Last year’s Co-pitcher of the Year Cat Osterman returned to the mound in game three of the series for the first time since undergoing surgery on her pitching arm during the off-season. Osterman came out strong and threw 8 K’s, while only allowing two hits and one run in five innings pitched.

On the other side of the diamond, Tammy Williams and Amber Patton gave some of the Bandits top performances. Williams scored two runs in the series, including a solo home run and two stolen bases, one of which was home. Patton finished the series with a .308 avg., 2 runs, 2 RBIs, 1 double, and 1 stolen base. There is no question, however, that the best performance of the series was the no-hitter thrown by the 2011 Co-Pitcher of the Year and 2011 Championship Series MVP, Monica Abbott. This was the second no-hitter of Abbott’s professional career and included a magnificent 14 K’s. The no-hit performance only added to the excitement of the evening that began with a pre-game ceremony featuring the retirement of #27, the number worn by longtime Bandit and former Olympic Gold and Silver Medalist, Jennie Finch. The Bandits’ also held a ceremony celebrating last year’s Championship Series title by awarding members of the 2011 Bandits’ roster with their championship rings. These events coupled with Abbott’s no-hitter capped off a fantastic night for the Bandits.

Along with Akron’s Bach, rookie Meagan Denny-White, of the Bandits, managed to put a game in the win column. Denny-White had the unlucky job of following up Abbott’s no-hitter. In spite of the follow, she rose to the challenge and held the Pride to 2 runs on 5 hits and 2 K’s.

NPF action continues next weekend with the Bandits visiting the Diamonds in Kannapolis, NC. This will be the first time the Diamonds play in the Carolinas. Meanwhile, the Racers and the Pride both will be heading out to Corpus Christi, Texas for a Pride home series hosted by the AA minor league team, Corpus Christi Hooks. Fans interested in following pitch-by-pitch can do so with several different options. Live streaming can be viewed on the NPF website, http://www.profastpitch.com, or by downloading the brand new NPF app available for both IPhone and Android OS. Additionally, fans can follow along through live stats provided by Pointstreak Technologies. A Pointstreak app can also be downloaded and is available in the Google Play and Apple app stores. Finally, fans can follow their favorite team or the NPF on Twitter and Facebook for up to the minute updates.

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