How close can you come to winning a game without actually winning it? About as close as the Aussie Spirit came against the USSSA Pride today.
The National Pro Fastpitch league-leading Pride came into the game with an extraordinary 25-1 win-loss record.
But in the second game of the series at T-Bone Stadium in Kansas City, the Aussie Spirit led for most of the game before the Pride took over the lead in the sixth inning and hung on for a 3-2 win.
That followed a similar story the previous day, when the Spirit also came close but fell short 2-1.
The Aussie Spirit have another chance to register their first win against the Pride when the two teams play again at Missouri Western University at 10am Thursday AEST.
NPF Game 41: USSSA Pride 3, Aussie Spirit 2
Aussie Spirit starting pitcher Kaia Parnaby gave her team the perfect start with a three-up-three-down first inning.
Then the first four Spirit hitters reached base. Chelsea Forkin singled, Leigh Godfrey walked and Stacey Porter singled to load the bases for Samantha Poole.
Poole doubled to left field on a 2-0 pitch to score Forkin and Godfrey and give the Aussie Spirit a 2-0 lead.
Unfortunately, the scoring dried up for the Spirit after that. Forkin, Godfrey, Poole and Tamieka Whitfield all had base hits but all were left stranded.
Pride starting pitcher Paige Parker recovered after a shaky start and did not allow another run after that first inning. Reliever Jessica Burroughs was similarly stingy, allowing just one hit in 3.1 innings.
The Pride scored an unearned run in the top of the fifth inning to narrow the gap, but the Spirit took a 2-1 lead into the sixth.
Parnaby was her usual self, not allowing an earned run through five innings. But she ran into trouble in the sixth. Sierra Romero drew a two-out walk and Jessie Warren followed with a two-run home to give the Pride the lead for the first time in the game.
Relief pitcher Jordan Taylor kept the Aussie Spirit in the game with a scoreless seventh inning, but they failed to score in the bottom half.