Sparks fly in Rebellion’s win over Bandits

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Maybe every home game should be capped with fireworks.


It seemed to bring out the sparkle in the Pennsylvania Rebellion Friday at Consol Energy Park.


Before the bursting colors dotted the darkened sky over the left field fence, Sarah Pauly filled the air with pitch after pitch in a rare back-to-back performance and Taylor Edwards sent a pitch into the night that resulted in a three-run homer.


Both performances highlighted the Rebellion’s 6-1 victory over the Chicago Bandits.


The margin of victory surpasses a 6-3 win over the USSSA Pride June 2 in the third game of the season. It also raised the Rebellion’s record to 7-25 while the Bandits dropped to 18-13.


The Rebellion could not have picked a better night to have one of their best games as 1,982 fans were treated to the in-game and post-game fireworks.


It was the second largest crowd in Rebellion history after the home opener of 2,943 on June 5, a 6-2 loss to the defending champion USSSA Pride.


The second straight start was Pauly’s idea, and she pitched a marvelous game. After a leadoff single to centerfielder Megan Wiggins, she got 18 outs in a row before surrendering a run and two more hits in the seventh inning.


“We’re thinking playoff series, how to win a series, who can we ride and how long can we ride her,” said Rebellion manager Stacey Rice. “Who would have thought she would pitch better the second night? But she keeps in great shape.”


All four teams of the National Pro Softball team gather in Hoover Ala., Aug. 20-23 for the postseason tournament, three best-of-3 series that determine the league champion.


Pauly allowed three runs, two earned, in a 3-1 loss to the Bandits Thursday evening. Afterwards, she approached Rice with the suggestion she go again last night.


“I figured that since the championship series is best-of-3 I needed to see how I performed on back-to-back days,” said Pauly, who has been a part of three championship teams in her career. “My dad always told me that your second game will be better than your first, and I believe what he says. You have a different mindset, and your body is more loose. I felt more smooth, and I was more relaxed.”


The Rebellion jumped on Bandits starter Ellen Renfroe for two runs in the first inning on back-to-back run-scoring doubles by shortstop Bianca Mejia and DH Courtney Liddle.


The Rebellion made it 3-0 with two outs in the second when centerfielder Sami Garcia beat out an infield single and moved to second on an error. A wild pitch by Renfroe put her at third and Brittney Lindley doubled her home.


In the fifth, Liddle drew a one-out walk, which spelled the end of Renfroe. Andrea Williamson relieved and got right fielder Mandy Ogle to fly out to right. Second baseman Lauren Lappin drew a walk and Edwards sent a shot over the left-field fence to make it 6-0.


“I recognized the changeup and stayed strong through it,” said Edwards, whose other home run was a grand slam against the Bandits July 13 in a 6-5, 10-inning loss in Chicago.


“In my first at bat, I got under it and popped it to left. The more runs we score gives our pitchers less pressure. They don’t have to worry about throwing a perfect game.”


Chicago reached Pauly for a run in the seventh when left fielder Emily Allard beat out an infield hit and scored on a double by shortstop Tammy Williams. But Pauly got the next three outs.


“She kept us off balance,” said Bandits manager Shane Winkler. “Her stuff was working.”


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