Bandits’ early home runs help sink Rebellion

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It was the worst way for the Pennsylvania Rebellion softball team to start a game.


Megan Wiggins, the second baseman for the Chicago Bandits, sent a Sarah Pauly offering over the center-field fence for a first-pitch home run just 10 seconds into the game.


For a team like the Rebellion, which has only six wins on the season, falling behind so early can have a devastating effect. Especially when the opposing rookie pitcher, Sara Moulton, is undefeated and holds the career wins record of 112 at the University of Minnesota.


To their credit, the Rebellion managed to tie the game, but couldn’t do much more than that as the Bandits scored two more times to take a 3-1 victory Thursday at Consol Energy Park.


The loss dropped the Rebellion’s record to 6-25 in the first of this 6-game series. The games on Monday and Tuesday will be televised by CBS Sports Network.


“We weren’t as sharp today,” said Rebellion manager Stacey Rice. “I’m not sure why. We missed a couple signs. … They just broke away from us at the end.”


Wiggins’ home run, her third of the season, was one of two hit by the Bandits. The Rebellion have struggled to score this season and have pushed across just 11 runs in the past five games.


“It’s a lot easier to pitch with a lead,” said Moulton, who allowed just four hits in seven innings, walked three and struck out two while moving to 6-0. “Our offense set the tone of the game with that home run. When they put up runs like this, it makes my job a lot easier.”


Still, the Rebellion tied the game in the second inning when first baseman Courtney Liddle walked and was sacrificed to second base by designated hitter Mandy Ogle. Second baseman Lauren Lappin drove in Liddle with a single, one of her three hits on the day.


The game stayed tied until shortstop Tammy Williams homered off Pauly to start the fourth inning. It was Williams’ eighth home run, which leads the National Pro Fastpitch league. Pauly allowed two more runners on base in the inning and that got the Rebellion bullpen stirring. But she settled down and got out of the jam with a groundout by third baseman Amber Patton and a strikeout of right fielder RT Cantillo.


The Bandits made it 3-1 in the fifth when Wiggins got on with a one-out error when a ball bounced off Pauly’s glove on a comebacker to the mound. Williams singled her to third base and catcher Kristen Butler hit a slow ground ball to the left side of the infield that shortstop Bianca Mejia came up with but had no play. That allowed Williams to score.


“We came back and answered (Wiggins’ home run) quickly,” said Rice. “The home runs hurt. It’s important to keep the ball in the park.”


A surge by Lappin, acquired in a preseason trade with the USSSA Pride, would be a boost to a weak Rebellion offense. She missed about two weeks, including seven games, with a pulled quad muscle and is just now settling back into the game.


“They shut me down for a good portion of that time,” said Lappin. “It’s more about staying mentally prepared. I felt like I am seeing the ball better. I found some holes. But this game is funny because you can hit lasers to the outfield that are right at someone and hit others that simply find a hole. You have to let the game pay you back.”


Notes


Attendance was 802. … Centerfielder Samie Garcia made three outstanding catches in the game, two coming on back-to-back plays in the sixth inning. … Pauly allowed two earned runs in seven innings and lowered her ERA to 3.03.


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