The Chicago Bandits scored in four of the first five innings as they beat the Carolina Diamonds 5-4 Sunday evening at CMC-NorthEast Stadium in Kannapolis, N.C.
The Bandits wasted no time getting on the board, with Amber Patton scoring on a fielder’s choice bunt by Megan Wiggins in the first inning.
Carolina answered with two runs in the bottom of the first, thanks to lead-off doubles by Natalie Villarreal and Caitlin Lever and a single by Rachel Folden.
Chicago matched the Diamonds’ ante and raised them a run in the second, when Brittany Cervantes doubled home Kristen Butler and then scored herself on Tammy Williams’ single off starter Angel Bunner.
The Bandits picked up another run in the third off Bunner’s replacement, Katie Burkhart (L, 2-2), thanks to Butler’s solo home run over the center field fence.
Carolina picked at and tied the Bandits in the fourth on Angeline Quiocho’s home run and Brooke LeSage’s RBI single that brought Jami Lobpries home.
That was as close as Carolina would get. Alisa Goler sealed the deal for Chicago with her second home run of the year, an opposite-field round-tripper in the fifth.
Goler went 2-for-3 in the final game of the series, which the Bandits took 3-1. Butler was 2-for-2 and scored two runs Sunday.
“Hitting is contagious, just like not hitting is contagious,” co-coach Mike Steuerwald said just before the team began its 15-hour bus trip back to Chicago.
“The last two nights, we finally started hitting the way we are capable of doing. Not just our regular 1-9 batting order, but everyone. Cervantes came in tonight and got a double. Butler had a double and a home run. We had a lot of contributions throughout the roster.”
Steuerwald credited the improved offensive performance with people “just starting to relax a little.”
“Hitters tend to put more pressure on themselves to do everything,” he said. “I told them [Saturday] that we are too good a lineup, that no one should feel like she has to do everything herself. Just control the controllable, and do what you are capable of.”
Nikki Nemitz (W, 2-1) picked up her second victory in 24 hours on one full inning of relief work. She replaced starter Meagan Denny-White in the fourth after the Diamonds tied the game.
Denny-White left with one strikeout while giving up four hits and two walks. Nemitz equaled Denny-White’s strikeout total while yielding two hits.
Monica Abbott came in to finish the job in the fifth inning and earned her first save of the year. Abbott turned the Diamonds away with four strikeouts in 2.2 innings, surrendering only a base on balls.
The Bandits have an off-day Monday before squaring off Tuesday against the Akron Racers in a two-game series. Tuesday night’s game starts at 7:35 p.m. Central time.
The two teams have a quick turnaround as Wednesday’s “Kid’s Day” game begins at 11:35 a.m. Central. Both games take place at The Ballpark at Rosemont in Rosemont, Ill.
National Pro Fastpitch streams all Chicago Bandits home and away games live online at http://profastpitch.com.
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