By Paul Adkins
Andi Williamson and the Chicago Bandits are headed to the National Professional Fastpitch championship series.
The Bandits captured the Ringor Cup and the regular season title with Saturday’s 3-1 victory over the Florida-based USSSA Pride at Chicago’s home ballpark in Rosemont, Ill.
The game was played before a sellout crowd of 2,054 fans.
Chicago split with the Pride in the four-game series, losing 3-2 last Wednesday, winning 8-0 last Thursday and also falling 4-1 last Friday.
Williamson, a 2009 Chapmanville Regional High School graduate, Harts native and former Marshall University pitcher, led Chicago to the shutout win last week.
Williamson was the starting and winning pitcher for the Bandits as she upped her season record to 9-2 and lowered her ERA to 1.67 – one of the best in the league. Williamson scattered six hits and recorded seven strikeouts.
The Chicago offense certainly helped Williamson as the Bandits lit up the scoreboard early, plating five runs off three hits in the second inning. The big blow was a home run by Megan Wiggins, her 10th of the season.
Wiggins then smacked her second homer of the game and her 11th of the season in Chicago’s two-run fourth.
In Saturday’s game, the Bandits used a two-out rally in the fourth inning to come back from a 1-0 deficit and take the lead to defeat the USSSA Pride.
Former Chicago Bandits pitcher and Team USA softball legend Jennie Finch threw out the ceremonial first pitch. Two other legends – Chicago’s Monica Abbott and the Pride’s Cat Osterman, battled it out within the circle.
The Pride jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the second inning after Kristyn Sandberg’s line-drive home run to right-center field.
Vicky Galindo hit the go-ahead single for Chicago in the fourth inning to make it 2-1. Chicago added an insurance run in the fifth after Wiggins drew a walk and later scored off a wild pitch to give the Bandits a 3-1 edge.
Abbott finished out the game in the seventh inning by striking out the first two Pride batters and getting a pop up to end the game. She finished the game with eight strikeouts, while only allowing three hits and one run. Osterman recorded five strikeouts, allowing six hits and three runs.
Chicago closed out the regular season with a 36-12 record, topping the second-place Pride (34-14) by two games. The two teams will meet in a best-of-three game championship series beginning on Friday night.
All championship games will be played on Chicago’s home field.
All games will also be broadcast live on ESPN2. Saturday’s game is set for a 4 p.m. first pitch. Sunday’s game, if necessary, also has a 4 p.m. starting time.