On this one bright night, it all came together for the Pennsylvania Rebellion softball team.
And it could not have come at a better time.
The Rebellion played the best game of a tough season Monday night in front of a national audience and defeated one of the best pitchers in the National Pro Fastpitch league in Monica Abbott.
Rookie catcher Taylor Edwards hit a two-run home run and drove in another run with a single in the sixth inning to cap a 3-1 victory over the Chicago Bandits that soured Abbott’s 29th birthday.
CBS Sports Network televised the game and will also do tonight’s finale of this six-game home series. The Rebellion moved to 8-27 with the win while the Bandits fell to 20-14.
“This was really fun,” the Rebellion coaching staff of Stacey Rice and Stephani Moore said in unison after the game.
And it was fun for the 1,458 who came to Consol Energy Park.
The Rebellion got clutch performances from Edwards, whose home run erased a 1-0 Chicago lead; and from relief pitcher Angel Bunner, who came to the rescue after starter Tatum Edwards loaded the bases with one out in the fourth inning.
And the Rebellion defense was magnificent. Third baseman Jenn Salling snagged a wicked liner in the second inning that saved a run; the Rebellion turned a 5-4-3 double play, a rarity in this league because of the speed of the players; and center fielder Sami Garcia made a diving catch of a pop up to end the sixth inning.
“It was all there, and it was awesome to watch,” said Rice. “Usually, I make notes during the game. I was so caught up in it, I didn’t write anything down.”
Rice thought because the game was broadcast, it sparked the players
“The game is on national TV, and you don’t want to make a fool of yourself,” she said. “We represent the sport, our team, the franchise and the area. So it’s important, that with a national platform like this, we perform.”
And they did.
Abbott came into the game with a 5-3 record, a 1.11 ERA and 69 strikeouts in 50 2/3 innings. Her fastpitch reaches into the low- to mid-70s, the best in the league and responsible for nine more strikeouts last night. But it was a 59 mph change that Edwards hit over the left-field fence that gave the Rebellion a lead it would not relinquish.
“She’s new in the league,” said Abbott. “I’ve only faced her a couple times. My changeup was a little fast and she (hit it well).”
Bunner had arguably her best performance of the season, going 3 2/3 innings without allowing a run to pick up the win. Summoned with Amber Patton on third, pinch-runner RT Cantillo on second and Daneille Zymkovitz on first, Bunner got Megan Wiggins to hit a bouncer back to the mound and threw out Patton at the plate. Left fielder Emily Allard then popped up to Bunner to end the inning and preserve the 2-1 lead.
“I love pressure. I absolutely love it,” Bunner said. “This was a big win for us. We’re coming together and growing stronger as a team.”
Edwards made it 3-1 with a single in the sixth that scored Courtney Liddle. The DH opened the inning with a single to centerfield and moved to third on a single by right fielder Mandy ogle to right.
“I’ve struck out a few times against Abbott; everyone has,” said Edwards. “I just go up there and take my hacks. You have to get in there and compete against the best. This was a really big win for us and shows how we can play the rest of the season. If we play like this, it will take us far.”
Wiggins gave the Bandits a 1-0 lead in the third with her fourth home run of the season.