A Close Contest Puts the Pride Behind in the West Texas Duel on the Diamond

Orlando, Fla. – The USSSA Florida Pride took to Rocky Johnson Field for the third time tonight in an attempt to take the lead in the series against the Chicago Bandits, dubbed the West Texas Duel on the Diamond. A hotly contested game, the score remained close throughout the extent of the night, but it was the Bandits who came out on top, ending the game in a 5-4 loss for the Pride.

The Bandits threatened early, with the lead-off hitter, Stacy May scoring a single, then making it to scoring position at second on a stolen base off of Vicky Galindo’s at-bat. Three quick outs ended the inning and left May stranded at the close of the first.

The Pride also started their run early. A walk from Jessica Mendoza followed by a single from Kelly Kretschman put runners in both corners when Pride rookie Amber Flores stepped to the plate. A pass ball on Flores’ at-bat drove Mendoza home and advanced Kretschman to scoring position on third. Flores made it to base on balls but the pair was left stranded when Andrea Duran ground-out to Bandits pitcher Nikki Nemitz.

Leading off the second inning for the Bandits was Jennie Finch, who, after racking up a full count whacked a triple to center field, then scored on an error from Duran at third. Two ground-outs from Angela Findlay and Rachel Mitchell followed by a strike-out from Emily Friedman ended the inning.

The Pride put themselves in prime scoring position in the bottom of the second when a single from Kristin Schnake was followed by a double from Natasha Watley. However, the third out of the inning was marked when Schnake attempted the extra base to the plate and was thrown out.

May scored the second run of the contest for the Bandits in the top of the third, initially making it on base on a single, then advancing to second on a throwing error from Pride shortstop Watley. An RBI double from Rachel Folden drove the run in, but Folden was left on base at the conclusion of the inning after a ground out from Samantha Findlay.

The top of the fourth saw the third consecutive inning for the Bandits with a run scored. A fielder’s choice allowed Mitchell to take first. She was followed by Friedman whose double drove her home and tallied the third run of the contest for the visiting team.

The Pride came back from the deficit in the bottom of the fourth, tying up the game on two runs from Tonya Callahan and Megan Willis. Callahan, who hit a single through the left field gap, was followed by a walk from Willis. A pass ball off of Bandits catcher Rachel Folden allowed the pair to advance to scoring position on second and third when Melissa Roth stepped to the plate, pinch hitting for Kristin Schnake. A single from Roth drove in both runs but a fly out to right field from Watley marked the third out of the inning and left Roth stranded at first.

The Bandits cemented their lead in the top of the fifth after consecutive singles from Galindo and Folden were followed by a double from Samantha Findlay, driving Galindo home. A subsequent double from Jennie Finch drove in the run for Rachel Folden and gave the Bandits a 5-3 lead at the close of the fifth.

Both teams were able to hold the score throughout the sixth and top of the seventh, but the Pride made a valiant attempt at a comeback in the bottom of the last inning. A single from Mendoza was followed by an RBI double from Kretschman, closing the Bandits lead to one. A ground-out to short from Amber Flores followed, putting the pressure on rookie Charlotte Morgan when she stepped in to pinch hit for Duran. A full count against her was followed by a line drive to third, brilliantly fielded by May, abruptly ending the game and giving the Bandits their second win of the series.

The USSSA Florida Pride will take to the field again tomorrow night for the fourth game of the series against the Chicago Bandits. The game, slated to begin at 5:05 EST will be aired nationally on ESPN2.

The USSSA Florida Pride joined the NPF as a franchise Team in November of 2009, operated by Florida Pride LLC. USSSA managed the Pride Team during 2009, culminating their inaugural season with a second place finish in the Championship Series. USSSA Florida Pride is sponsored by USSSA, the world’s largest amateur sports association, and is headquartered in Kissimmee, Florida.

About USSSA Florida Pride:

The USSSA Florida Pride is a professional franchise in the National Pro Fastpitch League that is owned and operated by USSSA. The amateur organization of USSSA has multi-sport coverage and encompasses teams and players from the United States and abroad.

About NPF:

National Pro Fastpitch is headquartered in Nashville, TN. The league, created to give elite female fastpitch players the opportunity to pursue a professional career in their chosen sport, has operated since 1997 under the names of Women’s Pro Fastpitch (WPF) and Women’s Pro Softball League (WPSL). NPF is the Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball in the category of women’s fastpitch softball since 2002.

About USSSA:

The United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA), headquartered in Osceola County, Florida, USSSA is the World’s Largest Multi-sport Athletic Organization. Founded in 1968, USSSA has grown to over 3.7 million participants, competing in 13 nationally sanctioned sports including Baseball, Fastpitch, Slow Pitch, Karate, Basketball, Soccer and more! For more information on USSSA and to register your team visit USSSA.com. Also be sure to visit USSSAToday.com for the latest USSSA News!