Scrap Yard Dawgs win to even best-of-three semifinal series
By Jim Jenks
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The only thing reigning Saturday afternoon at the 2016 National Pro Fastpitch Championship … was the rain.
The Chicago Bandits and Scrap Yard Dawgs started Game 2 of their best-of -three semifinal series in the morning at University of Alabama's Rhoads Stadium, but by the time the sixth inning rolled around at 12:54 p.m. local time, so did the lighting, thunder and, of course, the rain. Lots of it.
The No. 2 seed Dawgs, trailing 1-0 in the best-of-three series, were leading 10-1 when the teams were called off the field. After more than eight hours of delays and updates, the game was called at 9:04 p.m CT because of unsafe field conditions.
The majority of the more than 2,000 in attendance left when the game was stopped and came back hours later when the gates re-opened, hoping to see more championship softball.
"We want to thank you for being here and all of the support you have given us," Bandits outfielder Emily Allard told the fans from a microphone on the field. "We know you wanted to see softball, but the weather did not cooperate."
Despite all the bad news with the weather, the good news for the Dawgs was they evened the series and all-everything pitcher Monica Abbott bounced back nicely after getting beat up in Game 1 on Friday night.
Facing elimination when the day began, the Scrap Yard Dawgs put their fate in the hands of the two-time NPF Player of the Year, who did not disappoint. The former University of Tennessee standout put together four strong innings, allowing one run on one hit - it was a solo homer by Natalie Hernandez - and striking out five. She left the game with an 8-1 lead and figures to start Game 3 when Mother Nature says it's OK to play again.
Abbott, who gave up only four home runs all season, has given up three in two games, but the 6-foot-3 lefthander settled in, and dialed in on the Bandits offense. After scoring 11 runs in Game 1, Chicago managed only three balls out of the infield and nary a baserunner after the second-inning homer.
On the other side, the Dawgs offense pounded three Chicago pitchers for 10 hits, including a three-run homer from leadoff batter Kiki Stokes, who also added a two-run triple three innings later. Emily Crane, batting in the nine hole, was 2-for-2 with a walk and two RBIs.
The second semifinal scheduled for Saturday, between the top-seeded USSSA Pride and No. 4 Akron Racers, also was postponed.
Sunday's schedule begins at 12 p.m. ET with the Pride and Racers meeting in Game 2 of their semifinal series. Game 3 of the Scrap Yard Dawgs-Chicago Bandits series is scheduled for 5 p.m. A Game 3 between the Pride and Racers or Game 1 of the Championship Series will follow at 8 p.m.
Jim Jenks is an executive producer with MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.