The Chicago Bandits struck so quick and hard in the first inning that the game turned into a rout before most fans had a chance to find their seats.
The between-innings entertainment held more suspense after that.
Starter Tatum Edwards gave up a home run on the second pitch and the Bandits scored six first-inning runs on the way to an easy 11-1 victory Tuesday night in front of 951 fans at Consol Energy Park.
The game, televised by CBS Sports Network, was the final home game of the season for the Rebellion, who have a four-game series with the USSSA Pride before the National Pro Fastpitch championship series begins in Hoover, Ala., Aug. 20.
The Rebellion fell to 8-36 while the Bandits moved to 28-16. The Rebellion will play the USSSA Pride in the first round of the playoffs in Alabama and the Bandits will take on the Akron Racers.
“This was our last home game of the season and we’re grateful to the fans,” said shortstop Bianca Mejia, who had one of the two Rebellion hits. “We haven’t lost our confidence. We’re going to keep swinging the bats and keep looking forward.”
Monica Abbott continued her mastery over the Rebellion in this series, tossing five innings of one-hit ball. She had 10 strikeouts and 19 in her two starts in this series.
The first hit and only run came on a solo home run by shortstop Mejia to lead off the fourth inning.
“She is a great pitcher in that she adjusts batter to batter and pitch to pitch,” said Mejia. “She throws a 72 mph fastball and a 56 mph change, and she hits her spots. So you always feel good when you hit her. You always want to beat the best.”
Megan Wiggins kept up her tear on Rebellion pitching. At least she didn’t hit a home run on the third pitch of the game as she did Monday. This time, it took only two pitches for her to clout her eighth home run of the season. It was the fourth home run of the series for Wiggins.
But the big bat in this game was in the hands of right fielder Cheyenne Coyle, who crushed a Tatum Edwards pitch over the center field fence for a grand slam in the first inning and whacked a Bryana Walker offering over the left-centerfield fence for a solo shot in the fifth to make it 10-1.
“That’s the first time I hit two in a game in pro softball,” said Coyle, who has seven home runs this season. “I always have the same approach. I was looking for a pitch I could drive. It was higher up and I got a good swing at it.”
Coyle said she doesn’t think the Rebellion staff is tipping their pitches.
“Some hitters can read a pitcher better,” she said. “I don’t like to do that because if the pitcher knows it, she can go through the same motion and throw a different pitch.
“I didn’t try to hit a home run with the bases loaded. I knew they were loaded, but I just wanted to hit it hard.”
The Bandits hit nine home runs in the four-game series.
Left fielder Danielle Zymkowitz drove in three runs with a bases loaded double in the third inning that pushed the lead to 9-0.
Four Rebellion pitchers allowed nine hits and walked seven. Andy Varsho, daughter of former Pirates Gary Varsho, had the other hit for the Rebellion, an infield single in the sixth inning.