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updated: 8/23/2012 10:29 PM

Bandits open championship series with 4 top awards

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  • Chicago Bandits pitcher Monica Abbott, named the 2012 Pitcher of the Year in the NPF, needs one more win to send the Bandits to the NPF Championship game this weekend at The Ballpark at Rosemont. The Bandits took Game 1 of their series against Carolina with an 11-1 decision.

      Chicago Bandits pitcher Monica Abbott, named the 2012 Pitcher of the Year in the NPF, needs one more win to send the Bandits to the NPF Championship game this weekend at The Ballpark at Rosemont. The Bandits took Game 1 of their series against Carolina with an 11-1 decision.
    Photo courtesy of Dina Kwit/Chicago Bandits 2011 f

  • A fourth-inning home run blast by Kristen Butler gave the Chicago Bandits a 4-1 lead and control of Game 1 of their NPF playoff series Thursday against the Carolina Diamonds. Game 2 is 8:30 p.m. Friday at The Ballpark at Rosemont.

      A fourth-inning home run blast by Kristen Butler gave the Chicago Bandits a 4-1 lead and control of Game 1 of their NPF playoff series Thursday against the Carolina Diamonds. Game 2 is 8:30 p.m. Friday at The Ballpark at Rosemont.
    Photo courtesy of Dina Kwit/Chicago Bandits

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By Daily Herald News Services

With NPF Pitcher of the Year Monica Abbott on the mound, the Chicago Bandits cruised to a convincing 11-1 victory over the Carolina Diamonds Thursday at The Ballpark of Rosemont.

Back to back doubles in the third inning plus a home run by Kristen Butler in the fourth propelled the Bandits to a 4-1 lead and Chicago's powerhouse lineup never looked back.

Katie Burkhart (0-1) took the loss for the Diamonds, who grabbed a 1-0 lead off a solo home run by Bianca Mejia. Abbott, who rolled up 14 wins in the regular season, shut down the Diamonds after that, and relievers Nikki Nemitz and Chandra Bell closed out the final two innings for the Bandits.

The two teams meet again at 8:30 p.m. Friday for Game 2 of the best-of-three series.

In Thursday's second game in Rosemont, the Akron Racers took on top-seeded USSSA Pride, and the winner of that series will face the winner of the Bandits series for the NPF Championship.

NPF awards

Last year, Monica Abbott shared the honor of being named Pitcher of the Year with the USSSA Pride's Cat Osterman.

This year, however, there were no doubts as Abbott earned sole ownership of the award at the 2012 NPF Awards Banquet Wednesday night.

Of Abbott's 15 starts this season, 14 were complete games for a total of 125 innings pitched including two no-hitters. Her 14 wins, 190 strikeouts and 7 shutouts led the league while her 1.06 ERA was second to only Osterman.

Bandits outfielder Megan Wiggins, only 5-foot-5, was named the Home Run Champion with 12 homers. Wiggins also posted a .299 batting average, led the league in runs scored with 38, and finished third in RBI with 33.

Third baseman Amber Patton, a speedy and solid fixture in the Bandits lineup, tied with Akron's Sharonda McDonald for the NPF lead in stolen bases with 13 as both earned the Spikes Stolen Bases Award. Patton finished with a .343 batting average including 23 runs and 16 RBIs.

Patton also earned the Co-Defensive Player of the Year award with Akron's Kelley Montalvo. Patton finished with 48 put outs and 67 assists, along with a .991 fielding percentage.

Outfielder Vicky Galindo joined Abbott, Wiggins and Patton as the team's four All-NPF Selections. Galindo finished the regular season with a .260 batting average, 32 hits, 25 runs, 7 RBI and 3 triples.

As the No. 2 seed in the National Pro Fastpitch Championships, the Bandits must win their best-of-three series against the Carolina Diamonds to advance to the Championship Series. To purchase tickets, contact the box office at (877) 722-6348.

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