By S.C. Zuba
The Rockford Thunder competed in their final tournament of the season, the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) playoffs, last week in Akron, Ohio.
In the first round of the tournament, the Thunder took on the Akron Racers in a best-of-three series. The two teams split the first two games, and the Thunder looked to Cat Osterman to win the series and propel the team to the NPF Championship Series.
The Thunder gave Osterman the early lead as Chelsie Mesa hit a single down the left-field line in the top of the second. In the top of the third, the Thunder unloaded on the Racers as they scored four runs, giving the Thunder a 5-0 advantage.
The Thunder added two more insurance runs as they went on to win the game, and the first round of the playoffs, with a 7-2 victory.
The Championship Series featured the Rockford Thunder vs. the USSSA Pride in another best-of-three series. Ironically, these two teams were seeded No. 3 and No. 4 in the tournament. The Pride upset the No. 1 seed Chicago Bandits.
In game one, the Thunder sent Allison Kime to the circle while the Pride sent Sarah Pauly.
Pauly was dominant all game as she allowed no runs on only three hits, while striking out four Thunder batters in the complete-game effort. The Pride took game one 4-0.
Facing elimination in game two Sunday, Aug. 23, Osterman led the Thunder with a complete-game shutout, outdueling Pride ace Monica Abbott 2-0, while striking out13 Pride batters.
As if that weren’t enough, Osterman returned to the mound in the deciding game three later the same day to pitch another seven scoreless innings and strike out another 13 Pride batters. The Thunder went on to claim the 2009 Cowles Cup as the Thunder won game three 2-0.
Between the final two games, Osterman struck out 26 batters and gave up only four hits. For the tournament, Osterman struck out 50 batters in 31 innings in five starts, pitching 31 of her team’s 41 innings. For her efforts, Osterman was named NPF Series MVP.
Side note: Shortly before the NPF playoffs began, the NPF announced its All-NPF roster for the 2009 season, and the Thunder claimed four of the roster spots, as follow:
• Cat Osterman—Osterman was dominate all season, and earned herself the Triple Crown after finishing the season with 11 wins, 148 strikeouts and a 0.48 earned run average to lead the league in each category.
• Amanda Williams—Williams was selected in the outfield for the Thunder as she had career highs in a number of categories this year, including a .284 batting average, 15 RBIs, 13 walks and 29 hits.
• Chelsea Spencer—Spencer was an at-large selection for the All-NPF team as she posted impressive numbers with a .259 batting average, leading the team with 18 RBIs, sixth-best in the league.
• Jenna Rhodes—Rhodes, a rookie, was also an at-large selection as she finished her first season third in the NPF in stolen bases with 15.
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from the Aug. 26-Sept. 1, 2009 issue