HOOVER, Ala. – A two-run double by Jessica Garcia of the Akron Racers in the top of the sixth were the only two runs they would need, while Lisa Norris pitched a complete game to lead the Racers to a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Bandits in the opening game of the National Professional Fastpitch Championship Series at Hoover Met Stadium on Wednesday night.
On the Chicago roster is second-year pro Andi Williamson, a Harts native and Chapmanville Regional High School graduate. Williamson, a pitcher, has a 3-3 record this season within the circle.
Williamson, also a Marshall graduate, did not play in Wednesday’s game.
Veteran Monica Abbott got the call in the circle for the Bandits, which got out to an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. Megan Wiggins led off with a double to left cente and then moved to third on an Amber Patton groundout. A pass ball allowed her to safely reach home for the 1-0 lead, which the Bandits would hold on to until the sixth inning.
Abbott retired 11 straight batters, before Taylor Schlopy broke the streak in the fifth with a single to right as they threatened to tie the game. A sac bunt by Kelley Montalvo moved her to second but Abbott struck out both Haley Outon and Ashley Thomas to end the inning.
The Racers came out swinging again in their half of the sixth as Jill Barrett singled and stole second. A walk to Charlotte Morgan put two on for Garcia whose double to right center drove in the winning run for the Racers.
Chicago loaded the bases in the bottom of the seventh after hits by Tammy Williams, Brittany Cervantes and Alisa Goler but were unable to drive in any runs, falling to the Racers 2-1. Chicago stranded five base runners over the final two innings of the game.
Norris earned the complete game victory, allowing just one run on eight hits with one strikeout. Abbott, who also pitched a complete game, suffered the loss allowing just two runs on six hits while recording 10 strikeouts in seven innings of work.
Game Two of the best of three series was set for Thursday night. The Bandits needed a win to force a decisive Game Three on Friday.