Bandits sweep twin bill, punch ticket to Championship Series
Locked in a fight for one of the final two spots in the NPF Championship Series, the Bandits raced past the Texas Charge by an 8-0 final in game one of a Wednesday doubleheader at The Ballpark at Rosemont.
The Bandits jumped out to hot start in the opening inning, scoring a pair of runs on a sac fly from Emily Crane paired with a throwing error. A single up the middle of the bat of Megan Blank brought home a third run, which would be plenty for Chicago southpaw Kaia Parnaby.
Kaia Parnaby earned a pair of victories on Wednesday night, her fifth and sixth wins of the season. Photo credit: Marina Mantas, courtesy of National Pro Fastpitch.
"This is how we needed to bounce back," Sammy Marshall, who smacked her second career home run, said. "This team is too talented to let one game define us, so we know that if we take of business, it sets a good tone moving into the (USSSA) Pride series as well as for the postseason."
Marshall's long ball, her first outside the boundaries of The Ballpark at Rosemont, extended the Bandits' lead to 5-0 in the fourth. The speedy center fielder collected an inside-the-park home run on June 7, 2017 in a 7-0 win over the Beijing Shougang Eagles, marking her first home run of any kind.
"It felt pretty good," Marshall said. "I know off the bat I got a pretty good piece of it, but again, I've never hit one, so it felt really, really good."
Marshall's parents, Kathy and David Marshall, were provided the home run ball following the game.
"I just wanted to share that with them as much as I wanted to share it with my teammates," Marshall said.
With the win, the Bandits moved one step closer to earning a spot at Tiger Park in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and also secured their 100th franchise win at The Ballpark at Rosemont.
Kaia Parnaby, who got the start in game one of the doubleheader, took the ball in the nightcap as well and turned in another quality outing in a 10-7 win. The southpaw tossed five innings of one-run ball while striking out three to earn her second win of the day and sixth of the season.
Although Texas managed to get on the board first with an RBI-single from Lauren Haeger, but the Bandits responded in a big way in the bottom half of the fourth. Sammy Marshall took a pitch off the arm with the bases loaded to even the score and Brenna Moss lifted a shallow fly to left that popped out of the outstretched arm of Charge outfielder Breja'e Washington's glove. Moss, credited with a double on the play, collected three RBI to make it 4-1 in favor of Chicago.
Moss finished the game 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and the three RBI to earn Vaultz® Lock It Up!® Player of the Game honors.
"We need some energy and (Moss) has been that for us as we've put her in the leadoff spot," Bandits head coach Sharonda McDonald said. "She's done a great job."
Chelsea Forkin added to the lead in the fifth, roping a line drive single into right-center to score Emily Crane and extend the lead to 5-1. A base hit off the bat of Marshall brought in two more and a throwing error plated the Bandits' eight run of the contest.
Texas did not go quietly, however, putting up a four-spot in the sixth. Megan Blank quickly punched back for the Bandits, launching her second home run of the season into the right field bleachers.
After the Charge plated two more runs in the seventh, the Bandits secured a 10-7 victory and clinched their 10th consecutive trip to the NPF Championship Series, held from Aug. 17-20 at Tiger Park in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
"It feels amazing (to make the playoffs)," Moss said. "That's everything we work for all season, so to finally know we're in it, that's amazing."
Brenna Moss helped power a 10-run attack from the Bandits in game two of the doubleheader. Photo credit: Marina Mantas, courtesy of National Pro Fastpitch.
The Bandits conclude the regular season with a three-game home series against the league-leading USSSA Pride. First pitch in Friday night's series opener is set for 7:35 p.m. at The Ballpark at Rosemont.