KANNAPOLIS – The Carolina Diamonds ended the final homestand of their inaugural National Pro Fastpitch softball league season with a 6-4 extra innings loss to the league’s leading USSSA Pride at Kannapolis’s CMC-NorthEast Stadium.
“I am proud of the kids. They played with fire. We came back, we did some things that we needed to. When they pressed in the first inning we should have scored a couple of runs there but we didn’t, so it’s a little depressing,” Diamonds head coach Lisa Navas said.
It was tough four-game series against the league’s best team overall for the Diamonds.
“With a team like this you can’t make errors. When you do they capitalize on it and they score two or three runs in that situation,” Navas said. Florida was the first on the scoreboard when Diamonds pitcher Angel Bunner hit Francesca Enea with the bases loaded and one out in the second inning, walking in Kristyn Sandberg. But Angeline Quiocho would strike back in the next Diamonds at-bat, knocking a blast over right-center field and driving in Brittany McKinney as well to make it 2-1 Diamonds.
Katie Burkhart relieved Carolina’s starting pitcher Angel Bunner in the third inning and was herself relieved in the fifth inning by Danielle Spaulding. The Pride would get a lead on Carolina in the fifth too, first with a Jessica Mendoza single driving Jenn Salling in to tie it at 2-2. Kelly Kretschman then singled in Mendoza to make it 3-2 and moved Sandberg to third base. Sandberg then stole home to make it 4-2 when McKinney failed to throw out Kretschman’s attempted steal of second base with two outs.
Cat Osterman took over for the Pride’s Brittany Mack in the bottom of the fifth but the Diamonds gained a run when Amy Hooks drove GiOnna DiSalvatore from second with a single to close the gap to 4-3 in the Pride’s favor.
Carolina then brought in Morgan Melloh to relieve Spaulding in the seventh inning but the excitement came in the bottom of the inning, with two outs, when Bianca Mejia hit a home run over the left field fence to tie the game at 4-4 and ensure extra innings for the Diamonds.
“Today we pitched well and we went in with a plan to have all of our pitchers throw to keep them working out, because we know we have a lot more of the season left. We could have done some things differently but it is what is,” Navas said.
The Prides’s Enea would hit a two-run blast over left field in the top of the eighth inning with two outs to put the Pride up 6-4 before Melloh closed out the inning. Unfortunately, the Diamonds would not see the scoreboard change again as Osterman continued to hold their bats and ensure a victory for the Pride.
“Cat’s tough to hit. You can’t press it and we did with a three balls no strike situation and we were swinging at stuff. You have got to let the game come to you. The game doesn’t know who is supposed to win or lose and things happen for you. We just pressed a little bit and it didn’t work out for us,” Navas said.
The USSSA Florida Pride is a professional franchise in the National Pro Fastpitch League that is owned and operated by USSSA. The amateur organization of USSSA has multi-sport coverage and encompasses teams and players from the United States and abroad.
National Pro Fastpitch is headquartered in Nashville, TN. The league, created to give elite female fastpitch players the opportunity to pursue a professional career in their chosen sport, has operated since 1997 under the names of Women’s Pro Fastpitch (WPF) and Women’s Pro Softball League (WPSL). NPF is the Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball in the category of women’s fastpitch softball since 2002.
The United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA), headquartered in Osceola County, Florida, USSSA is the World’s Largest Multi-sport Athletic Organization. Founded in 1968, USSSA has grown to over 3.7 million participants, competing in 13 nationally sanctioned sports including Baseball, Fastpitch, Slow Pitch, Karate, Basketball, Soccer and more! For more information on USSSA and to register your team visit USSSA.com. Also be sure to visit USSSAToday.com for the latest USSSA News!