The Aussie Spirit and Cleveland Comets continued their see-sawing season battles when they split a National Pro Fastpitch double-header in Akron, Ohio.
With six new players — Chelsea Forkin, Leigh Godfrey, Kaia Parnaby, Samantha Poole, Justine Smethurst and Melinda Weaver— added to the team, the Aussie Spirit are now at full strength and ready to tackle the final few weeks of the NPF season and prepare for the XVI Women’s Softball World Championship in Chiba, Japan from August 2-12.
NPF game 34: Cleveland Comets 3, Aussie Spirit 2
After a rainout the previous day, the Aussie Spirit and Cleveland Comets returned to Firestone Stadium for a double-header.
This one was not decided until the first extra inning, when the Spirit failed to get an out on a sacrifice bunt and Yuan Huaining scored an unearned run to win the game for the Comets.
The early innings featured a brilliant pitching performance by Ellen Roberts, who allowed only one hit and one walk in four scoreless innings, with three strikeouts.
Runs were hard to come by as Comet pitcher Gretchen Aucoin matched it with Roberts through four scoreless innings. It was not until the fifth inning that the drought was broken, when Clare Warwick singled, advanced to second on a throwing error and scored on Verity Long-Droppert’s single.
But the lead lasted only until the next Comet hitter, as Alexa Peterson greeted new Spirit pitcher Jordan Taylor with a home run. Two walks, followed by an RBI single by Liu Fei Fei, gave the Comets the lead.
The Spirit tied it up in the top of the seventh after Jade Wall doubled and Clare Wawick singled. But Warwick was thrown out at home trying to score the go-ahead run.
NPF Game 35: Aussie Spirit 6, Cleveland Comets 1
The new players arriving from Australia wasted no time making an impact.
Samantha Poole enjoyed her first start, launching a home run in the first inning that drove in Stacey Porter and gave the Aussie Spirit the early lead.
For the game, Poole had three hits and a walk, driving in three runs and scoring two.
Her fellow new arrivals, Leigh Godfrey and Melinda Weaver, also hit safely, with Godfrey scoring a run and Weaver getting an RBI.
Taylah Tsitsikronis added to the lead with her team-leading sixth home run of the season.
Justine Smethurst also made an impressive NPF debut. She pitched three scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and one walk.
Kaia Parnaby, fresh from a stint in Japan, also made an immediate impact. She struck out six in 2.2 innings, allowing just the one base runner on a walk.