With superstar pitchers Monica Abbott and Cat Osterman locked in a pitching duel, the Chicago Bandits captured Game 1 of the NPF Championships Series with a 2-1 victory over the USSSA Pride.
After a third-inning walk, Bandits catcher Shannon Doepking took Osterman deep for a 2-run homer and Abbott shut down the Pride the rest of the way. Abbott and Osterman both went the distance, surrendering 4 hits apiece over seven innings at The Ballpark at Rosemont. Both pitchers collected 6 strikeouts each on the night, and Abbott survived 4 walks while Osterman was burned by her loan walk to Amanda Williams.
The Pride had a chance to tie the game in the bottom of the seventh after an infield hit by Natasha Watley, but Abbott closed out the game with three straight strikes against power hitter Jessica Mendoza.
The Bandits can clinch their second straight NPF Championship title with a Game 2 win at 2:30 p.m. Sunday. If there is no Game 3, then Game 2 will be carried on tape delay by ESPN2. If Game 3 is necessary, it will be carried live at 6 p.m.
The Pride needed a huge game by Mendoza in the semifinals earlier Saturday to beat the Akron Racers 9-7 and advance to the Finals. Mendoza had a grand slam and a 3-run homer as the Pride rallied from five runs down to win that series in three games.
Former Palatine High School and Northwestern infielder Nicole Pauly's solo homer gave the Racers a 7-6 lead in the fifth but Mendoza's 3-run blast in the sixth proved to be the game-winning hit.