The rain and lightning gave way to clear skies for the start of the Pennsylvania Rebellion softball team’s game against the Chicago Bandits, but the Rebellion’s play was in stark contrast to the sun shining on Consol Energy Park.
Starting pitcher Angel Bunner committed three illegal pitches in two innings, two of which led to runs, and Pennsylvania’s defense committed two errors as Chicago defeated the Rebellion, 17-1, in a National Pro Fastpitch game.
It was the team’s worst loss since an 18-2 defeat June 14 at Akron.
A torrential downpour and lightning caused a ninety-minute delay and the lingering effect on the ReBellion’s play was obvious.
Bunner’s fastball was flat and her control was shaky. She hit the first batter of the game with a fastball on the ankle and allowed a single to the following batter before an illegal pitch was called to move both runners up one base.
Bandits shortstop Tammy Williams followed with a single to right field to score both runners. An additional illegal pitch advanced Williams to second and she scored when Kristen Butler slapped a single to left field that was mishandled by Rebellion left fielder Brittney Lindley.
“I didn’t see her drag her back foot and the umpire only called her for three illegal pitches so she either made an adjustment or he decided to stop calling it,” Rebellion manager Stacey Rice said. “She hasn’t been called for one all season so I couldn’t tell you what was going on. The illegal pitch calls have been so inconsistent.”
Bunner committed another illegal pitch in the second inning and allowed four more runs on three hits as Pennsylvania (7-26) trailed 7-0 after two.
Chicago (19-13) added three more runs in the third on back-to-back two-out singles, followed by a hit-by-pitch, an additional walk and a two-run single by Bandits left fielder Emily Allard.
The Rebellion had a run on the scoreboard in the bottom of the first inning before the umpires made a controversial call to return the runner to third base. Pennsylvania third baseman Jenn Salling walked and Bianca Mejia reached first on an infield single before Mandy Ogle drew the count full with two outs.
Bandits pitcher Kirsten Verdun’s pitch sailed outside the strike zone and past the catcher for what the umpires determined was a passed ball. Salling scored on the play, but an NPF rule negated the run.
If the runners were moving on the pitch, Salling would be able to score, but since it was deemed a passed ball on a ball four count, Ogle took first base. The inning ended two batters later on a groundout.
The league got rid of backstops because of the way they look, so it developed a new rule for passed balls.
“I’m getting extremely frustrated with the inconsistency of the umpiring,” Rice said. “The rules don’t specifically outline what would happen on a 3-2 count with two outs. The runner should have scored, but when I asked the umpire, he said the new rule did not outline this specific situation in the email sent out from the league.”
Despite the discouraging events, Pennsylvania finally scored on a RBI single by Lauren Lappin in the top of the third inning, but the rally was cut short when Mejia was thrown out at home attempting to score from second.
The Rebellion got five hits in the first inning, but were held without a hit for the next four innings. They stranded seven runners, including three in the first after the controversial call. The Bandits added one run in the fifth and sixth innings before a five-run seventh, led by a Cheyenne Coyle grand slam, made the score 17-1.
While Rice was frustrated with the loss, she is encouraged by her team’s play over the past few weeks.
“This is just one of those games that happens regardless of the competition,” Rice said. “It happens, but you hope that you’re on the right end of it. We were sluggish and that can’t happen tomorrow.”
Pennsylvania was attempting to complete its first winning streak of the season after a 6-1 victory Friday night.