Stellar Pitching Leads Bandits to Doubleheader Sweep of Wild
ROSEMONT, Ill. — The Bandits allowed just one run and five hits over 15 total innings, taking both games Saturday from the Canadian Wild to improve to 11-3 on the season. Haylie Wagner threw an eight-inning complete-game shutout in the opener, and Rachele Fico and Aleshia Ocasio held the Wild, who fell to 13-9, to just one run in the nightcap.
Game One: Bandits 1, Wild 0 (8 innings)
Seven innings was not enough to separate the two teams as Wagner for the Bandits and Sara Groenewegen for the Wild both pitched excellently. With the international tiebreak rule in effect and each team starting the eighth inning with a runner on second base, it was the Bandits who finally broke through for a 1-0 victory.
Brenna Moss was placed on second in the eighth. Amanda Chidester hit a fly ball to right to move Moss to third, and then Abbey Cheek hit a ground ball to short. Moss initially held, then broke for the plate on the throw to first and just beat the relay home to score the game’s first run.
“You’re not able to see anyone else be able to tag up and be so safe at third on a shallow pop-up to the right fielder, and then for her to take home on the throw [to first],” Coach Lauren Lappin said. “We don’t win that game in that fashion if anyone else is running.”
The bottom of the inning was even more dramatic. Wagner got a groundout to the left side and a strikeout to keep the runner at second with two outs, but Larissa Franklin hit a single to left field. Emily Crane came up throwing and gunned down Jennifer Salling at the plate to end the game.
Chicago left two runners on base in the first, second and fourth innings, while the Wild’s biggest threat came in the fifth. That inning, Salling led off with a single, stole second and was sacrificed to third. Wagner pitched out of it, getting a pop-up to first and a stand-up play by Hannah Flippen on a grounder to escape.
Groenewegen allowed just four hits along with four walks through eight innings. She struck out four and got eight of her outs on infield pop-ups.
Wagner was even better. She struck out two, and has now pitched 21.2 innings this season without issuing a walk. She held the Wild scoreless long enough for the Bandits to break through and earned her third win of the year.
“[Wagner] just wants the ball,” Lappin said. “She’s always ready to go. She’s throwing confidently right now; she’s going right at hitters, getting ahead of batters right away and then being able to shut it down.”
Game Two: Bandits 3, Wild 1
This time, the Bandits took the lead right from the outset, getting a pair of two-out RBI hits in the first inning. Cheek hit a soft single to center to drive in Chidester, then Crane singled up the middle to score Kristyn Sandberg, giving the Bandits an immediate 2-0 lead.
Fico was outstanding this time out, retiring the first 11 batters she faced. The Wild rallied with two outs in the fourth, getting a walk, a hit batter and a Salling RBI single to scratch across a run, but Fico retired Emma Entzminger on a grounder to limit the damage.
In all, Fico allowed just the one hit through five innings, with a pair of strikeouts.
“Fico struggled her last couple outings, but for her to come out and perform like she did in the circle was huge,” Lappin said.
The Bandits added a big insurance tally in the fifth. Chidester split the gap in right-center to drive in Moss to account for the 3-1 final score. Ocasio took care of the rest, retiring all six batters she faced in the sixth and seventh to earn her first save of the season.
The six-game series continues with another game Sunday. First pitch between the Bandits and Wild is scheduled for 3:05 p.m. CT from Parkway Bank Sports Complex.
ABOUT CHICAGO BANDITS
Since 2005, the Chicago Bandits have been members of the National Pro Fastpitch league. Entering their 14th season as a franchise, the Bandits have provided the Chicago area with high-level softball talent and entertainment en route to capturing six regular season titles and four Cowles Cup championships, the most recent coming during the 2016 campaign. Located in Rosemont, the Bandits play at Parkway Bank Sports Complex, one of the premier softball facilities in the nation. Parkway Bank Sports Complex is the only stadium in the country built exclusively for a women’s professional softball team. The Bandits provide an opportunity for female fastpitch softball players to further their careers at the professional level and has included legendary figures such as Jennie Finch, Tammy Williams and Stacy May-Johnson