It was statement week for the two most dominant franchises in the National Pro Fast Pitch League as, since 2010, either the USSSA Pride or the Chicago Bandits have won the NPF Championship. The Pride and Bandits played four times in the last week with two games at the other home field.
The Pride open at home by beating the Bandits at home winning 8-2 on Tuesday night and 3-0 on Thursday night at Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Florida. The Pride were led by Lauren Chamberlain who hit three home runs in the two wins over the Bandits. Chamberlain Power surge got her at top of the league with 7 home runs as well in the top five in RBIs, Slugging Pct, and Doubles.
The series moved to the Bandits home in Rosemont, Illinois for the weekend two game series and the Bandits gave the ball to last year NPF’s Championship Series hero Shelby Turnier who responded by throwing 4 innings and holding the Pride to one run on two hits. Turnier got help from Bandits offense which was shut down in Florida exploded for 5 runs in the first inning off Pride starter Jolene Henderson as Bandits would defeat the Pride 7-3 to get first win of the season over the Pride in six meetings.
“We were all really excited to be back on our home field,” Turnier said in Bandits recap press release. “We struggled against [the Pride] so far this season, so to get a win back on our home field feels amazing.”
Sunday proved to be a pitchers duel as Pride led 1-0 on a solo home run by Megan Wiggins to open the game. Bandits tied the game off Pride closer Jordan Taylor in the bottom of the 6th as Brenna Moss on a fly ball by Natalie Hernandez. The game would be delayed by a rain delay that lasted one hour, six minutes. Despite the rain delay, The Bandits did not lose the momentum they gathered in the 6th.In the bottom of the 7th, Emily Crane collected a bunt single and moved up to immediately moved into third base on Megan Blank’s double down the right field line. Danielle Zymkowitz stepped in as a pinch-hitter and laced a single up the middle to bring home the winning run and second consecutive win in as many days for the Bandits.
The loss was first of the season for the Pride when leading or tied after 6 innings of play (24-1). The loss was also the first for All-NPF Closer Jordan Taylor since 2014 season. The win went to starter Kaia Parnaby who made her Bandits debut this week starting on Thursday night against the Pride and again on Sunday holding the Pride to 4 runs in the two games. Parnaby joins the Bandits after playing with the Australian National Team at the World Cup of Softball. Parnaby given a boost to the Bandits staff and could be a factor down the stretch as the Bandits hope to make the playoffs and get a chance to defend the title in Baton Rouge August 17-20.
The Bandits moved into third place (18-16) in the standings ahead of the Akron Racers who are 19-18 in 4th place. The Texas Charge who lost to the Beijing Eagles for the second time on Sunday night drop to 18-19 and in 5th place. The top four teams make the playoffs. The Pride drops to 25-8 still in first place ahead of the Scrap Yard Dawgs (20-11).
The two rival franchises on August 11-13 at Rosemont on the final weekend of the regular season, But if history is any indication it will not be the last time that the Pride and Bandits will see each other in 2017.