Donna Bourgeois came within two outs of a complete game in her first National Pro Fastpitch appearance as the Chicago Bandits beat the NPF Diamonds 7-4 Sunday in Rosemont, Ill.
Bourgeois gave up five hits, walked seven and struck out five in six and one-third innings before Taryne Mowatt relieved her in the top of the seventh.
The Louisiana rookie worked herself in and out of jams in the first and second innings, where she allowed runners to reach scoring position after two outs.
Her teammates gave her sharp defensive work in the middle innings to keep the Diamonds off the scoreboard. That included an around-the-horn double play in the third inning and catcher Shannon Doepking nailing Brianna Hesson at second on an attempted steal in the fourth.
Bourgeois ran out of gas in the seventh inning, beginning with Hesson’s leadoff double. A single from Jessica Bachkura and a walk to Jami Lobpries loaded the bases for Kristin Schnake.
Schnake, who had gone 0-for-10 in the series up to that point, cleared the bases with a triple that ended Bourgeois’ bid for a shutout and brought in Mowatt. Schnake scored before the game-ending third out to close Bourgeois’ book at four runs.
“I was told I might get a few innings this weekend, to get used to things,” Bourgeois said later. “I wish I could have gone all the way.
“I think I was well taken care of [by my teammates],” she said. “I knew if I made a mistake, that they would make me look good anyway. If you know someone on your team is weak, you don’t want to mess up; but you don’t have to worry about that here.”
The Bandits sprinkled their seven runs and 10 hits across the lineup.
Rachel Folden opened Chicago’s scoring with a center-field home run off starter Rhiannon Kliesing in the first inning. It was Folden’s fourth extra-base hit of the series and sixth RBI, as well as fourth home run of the season.
Tammy Williams and Amber Patton each contributed two RBIs in the Bandits’ second-inning, four-run assault on Kliesing.
Williams knocked in Jamee Juarez and Caitlin Lever with a triple, her first hit since coming off the DL on Saturday. She scored two batters later, when Megan Wiggins doubled into the left field corner.
“It was just nice to be back in the box, figuring out the timing and swinging the bat again,” said Williams, who broke a bone in her right foot June 4 during a game against the Bloomington Lady Hearts.
Patton doubled Wiggins home, which sent Kliesing to the locker room in favor of Morgan Melloh.
Melloh, who worked the first two games for the Diamonds, allowed two more runs during her four and one-third innings. One run came in the third inning, when Doepking singled up the middle to score Juarez.
Patton sent Danielle Zymkowitz home from second base with a single in the fourth inning to account for the other.
“I was really impressed by Melloh; she pitched on pure guts,” Brown said. The amount of innings she has been throwing [recently] – I’m guessing she is very sore tonight.
“I thought she had some decent movement, and Megan Gibson kept us off-guard with her change-up Saturday,” Brown continued. “But we are just hitting the ball so well right now. We are at that point where everyone is finding their timing.
“Early on, we were taking too many pitches, maybe looking for too good a pitch. But now we are swinging at strikes and getting bunts down.”
The Bandits’ sweep of the four-game series against the Diamonds puts them atop the NPF standings with an 11-5 record.
The Bandits’ next opponent is the Akron Racers, whom they host for four games at Rosemont Stadium beginning Thursday, July 7. Akron sits in third place in the NPF with an 8-8 record, one game behind the USSSA Pride.