TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Sunday’s elimination contest between the second-seeded Scrap Yard Dawgs and third-seeded Chicago Bandits in the opening round of the NPF Championship Series served as a stark contrast to the two previous meetings between the clubs. The games that preceded Sunday’s resulted in lopsided wins for both teams, with the Bandits recording an 11–2 victory on Friday and the Dawgs posting a 10–1 win in a rain-shortened game on Saturday. But Sunday’s 2–1 win by the Bandits—allowing them to advance to the best-of-three championship round against the USSSA Pride—was anything but a blowout.
In a pitching rematch from Friday between Dawgs ace Monica Abbott and Bandits southpaw Angel Bunner, Game 3 appeared to be on the way to another high-scoring affair when Chicago loaded the bases in the top of the first inning. But Abbott limited the damage, allowing only an RBI fielder’s choice to All-NPF selection Danielle Zymkowitz to give the Bandits an early 1–0 lead.
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The Dawgs threatened similarly at the plate in the bottom of the inning when Kiki Stokes led off with an infield single and advanced to second base on a sacrifice bunt by Britt Vonk. Bunner then hit Nerissa Myers with a pitch, putting two runners on base for Madison Shipman, who just missed a three-run home run when she flied out to the warning track in left field to end the threat.
Zymkowitz followed up with her second RBI of the day in the top of the third, this time, in the form of a two-out triple to score Amanda Kamekona from first and extend Chicago’s lead to two. But the bottom of the inning saw the Dawgs break through, thanks to an RBI single from Shipman off of Shelby Turnier, who entered the game in relief of Bunner earlier in the frame.
An error by Vonk to start the fifth set up a scoring opportunity for the Dawgs, as Taylor Edwards reached first base, followed by a passed ball that allowed pinch runner Allison Bauch to advance to second. But Abbott and the Dawgs escaped unscathed, as the first million-dollar woman in the league’s history struck out the next two batters she faced and induced a groundout to end the inning.
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But the Dawgs failed to push another run across, as Turnier shut them down in the sixth, and then again with the bases loaded in the bottom of the seventh, to eliminate the second-seeded squad. Chicago, the defending Cowles Cup champion, now advances to its second straight championship series.
Abbott, the starter of all three games for the Dawgs in the series, was the tough-luck loser, finishing with nine strikeouts in the complete-game effort to wrap up her second straight Pitcher of the Year campaign with a 19–3 record.
The championship round—a rematch of last year’s finals between the Pride and Bandits—is scheduled to begin Sunday at 7 p.m. CT on CBS Sports Network.