It has been a familiar story for the Aussie Spirit of late: match it with the best for most of the game, but come away empty-handed.
Back at Missouri Western University today, the Spirit went up against the USSSA Pride, who have an extraordinary 28-1 win-loss record in the 2018 National Pro Fastpitch league.
For the third time in the past four games, the Aussie Spirit put up a strong performance against the best team in the league, only to fall one run short.
The 1-0 defeat was still a marked improvement on the early season blowouts games against the Pride, and much better than the 9-0 result the previous day.
The Aussie Spirit have two more chances to notch an elusive victory over the Pride when they play a double-header at Missouri Western on Saturday morning AEST.
Game 42: USSSA Pride 9, Aussie Spirit 0
For three innings this game was a tight pitchers’ duel between Aussie Spirit starter Ellen Roberts and her USSSA Pride counterpart Jailyn Ford.
But it all went horribly wrong for the Aussie Spirit after that as the Pride showed why they are the top team in the 2018 NPF season.
The Pride racked up 12 hits, including three home runs, and put the game beyond doubt with a seven-run-fifth inning.
Ford pitched a complete game and allowed only three hits, all singles, to Chelsea Forkin, Leigh Godfrey and Stacey McManus.
Game 43: USSSA Pride 1, Aussie Spirit 0
If you like high-quality pitching and defence, this was the game for you.
The key moment came with two outs in the fourth inning, when Lauren Chamberlain singled and scored on a double by Megan Wiggins.
Aussie Spirit starting pitcher Jordan Taylor produced her best game for her adopted team, striking out 11 while allowing three hits and two walks.
Reliever Ellen Roberts kept her team in the game with two scoreless innings, allowing just two hits, with three strikeouts.
But USSSA Pride pitcher Jessica Burroughs was up to the task, pitching a complete-game shutout and allowing just three hits and one walk, with six strikeouts.
The only Aussie Spirit hitters to reach base were Chelsea Forkin, Taylah Tsitsikronis and Carmelle Sorensen with singles, and Jade Wall with a walk.