Monica Abbott has been flirting with a perfect game all season -- until Thursday night.
Abbott threw the first perfect game ever in Rosemont Stadium as the Chicago Bandits defeated the Akron Racers 5-0 in National FastPitch softball action.
The left-hander struck out the first three Racers she faced and finished with 10 strikeouts in the game for the Bandits (19-14) before a crowd of 1,038.
In the top of the second inning, the Racers' Nichole Pauly, a Palatine native, had a good chance to spoil the night for Abbott. Pauly hit a sharp liner that forced right fielder Alexis Jager to make a diving catch.
"As a defender, you just try your best to be at the right spot at the right time," Jager said. "And on that pitch, it was off speed, so it was my job as an outfielder to creep in a little bit and play more shallow, and that's what I tried to do on that pitch. Luckily it worked out, and (Pauly) almost got a short-looper base off of it, but luckily I was in the right place at the right time."
The Bandits' Tammy Williams got the scoreboard going as she led off the bottom of the first inning with a homer. In the third, designated player Nikki Nemitz hit a 3-run homer that scored pinch runner Kristin Shifflett and Megan Wiggins. The Bandits scored their final run on an error.
After the game, Abbott talked about how she felt before taking the mound on what turned out to be a historic night: "We've been on the road for quite some time. It felt so good to be back at home, playing in the stadium, and just being back with the Bandits. And I was just like, 'Gosh, I'm so happy to be here.' To be happy and be refreshed, it just felt so good to be out there. I just wanted to have a good time tonight, and I did."
With her 10 strikeouts, Abbott now has 134 on the season, just 3 strikeouts behind Lauren Bay's 2005 record of 137.
The Bandits and Racers will play the second game of a four-game series at 7:35 p.m. today at Rosemont Stadium.