A new-look and refreshed Aussie Spirit team returned to the winning list with an impressive 4-1 victory over the Cleveland Comets in the National Pro Fastpitch league.
With Stacey Porter and Ellen Roberts added to the team after stints playing in Japan, and Jade Wall also playing her first NPF game, the Spirit lineup took on a fresh look.
And the other players in the team showed the benefits of having had a seven-day break since their previous game.
Playing for the first time at the Urban Youth Academy in Kansas City, the Spirit ended their 15-game losing streak and improved to a 7-21 win-loss record.
Game 28: Aussie Spirit 4, Cleveland Comets 1
The latest additions to the Aussie Spirit wasted no time making an impression. Ellen Roberts pitched a scoreless first inning, then leadoff hitter Stacey Porter hit a solid line drive in her first at-bat. After Shannon Keevers
doubled, Jade Wall opened the scoring with a single to right field that scored Keevers.
The Spirit doubled their lead in the second inning on a solo home run by Stacey McManus, her first homer of the season.
The lead doubled again an inning later. Porter led off the inning with a walk, was sacrificed to second by Keevers and went to third on a walk to Taylah Tsitsikronis. Wall followed with her second RBI single of the game, then Clare Warwick singled to score Tsitsikronis and give the Spirit a 4-0 lead.
Although the scoring dried up after that, Roberts made sure that didn’t matter. She pitched five scoreless innings, allowing just two hits and no walks, with five strikeouts.
The final two innings were pitched by Jordan Taylor, who allowed one run on three hits and two walks, with four strikeouts.
The Comets’ only run came in the last inning, when Jianh Xinyue drove in Cao Yang with her second hit of the game.
Player of the Game: Jade Wall
Making her NPF debut and with her parents watching, Jade Wall described the experience as “very, very special”.
“The girls have been training really hard, and we knew that the road before was really tough for them,” Wall said in a post-game interview on NPF TV.
“We were watching at home and we just couldn’t wait to get here. There was so much energy out there tonight, and we just love that we’re finally here and being a part of it.”
While obviously enjoing being in the NPF action, Wall said the team had not lost focus on the longer-term goal of preparing for the XVI Women’s Softball World Championship, which starts in Chiba, Japan, on August 2.
“We’re facing great-quality pitching and teams back-to-back-to-back. We don’t get that at home, so this is a great opportunity and great preparation that we’ve got into the Worlds.
“We’re really lucky to be here and we’re thankful — and we can’t wait to come out again tomorrow night.”