A sensational outfield catch by Tamieka Whitefield and a much-improved offensive display were not enough to get the Aussie Spirit over the line against the Chicago Bandits.
The Bandits maintained their unbeaten National Pro Fastpitch record this season with an 8-3 win in Hutchinson, Kansas.
But they were made to work hard by the Spirit, whose three runs from eight base hits was a vast improvement on their offensive output in recent games.
The two teams meet again tomorrow morning (AEST) in Wichita, Kansas.
Game 19: Chicago Bandits 8, Aussie Spirit 3
The Aussie Spirit twice led this game in the early innings but could not hold off the powerful Chicago hitting lineup.
Things started well enough for Spirit pitcher Taylor-Paige Stewart, who struck out two Bandits in a scoreless first inning.
In the bottom half, Shannon Keevers, Jessica Torpey and Verity Long-Droppert all singled to load the bases. A sacrifice fly by Belinda White scored Keevers and put the Spirit up 1-0.
After the Bandits hit back with an unearned run in the second inning, the Spirit regained the lead with singles to Michelle Cox and Tamieka Whitefield, followed by an RBI single by Stacey McManus. An RBI groundout by Keevers then gave the Aussies a 3-1 lead after two innings.
But the hits dried up after that, with only two more for the rest of the game — to McManus and Jordan Lambert — against strong relief pitching by Chicago’s Lacey Waldrop and Shelby Turnier, who did not allow a run between them.
The game highlight that lit up social media was a catch by left fielder Whitefield, who crashed through and over the fence and somehow held on to the ball to take a home run away from Courtney Gano in the fifth inning.
Chicago infielder Emily Carosone was the Spirit’s nemesis, with four hits including two home runs and a double, driving in five runs.