A popular saying around Consol Energy Park during the National Pro Fastpitch softball season was no matter how many losses the Pennsylvania Rebellion sustained, the regular season was nothing more than a seeding process for the championship tournament.
Well, the seeding process is complete and the Rebellion begin what could be the final series of their season tonight against the defending NPF champion, USSSA Pride.
First pitch is 9 p.m.
Game 2 of this best-of-3 series is 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
The No. 2 seed Chicago Bandits play No. 3 Akron Racers in today’s 5:30 p.m. opener. This also is a best-of-3 series. First-round winners meet in a best-of-3 series for the title.
All games will be televised by CBS Sports Network.
The NPF Championship Series is being played in Hoover, Ala., a few miles south of Birmingham and an hour east of Tuscaloosa, which happens to be a hotbed of college softball fans. Alabama was one of the best drawing teams in the Southeast Conference and the conference was the best draw of all others in any NCAA Division.
“As soon as we finished (the last game of the regular season), I told our players that now is the time to clear everything from their heads,” said Rebellion manager Stacey Rice. “Every team is 0-0 and any game is out there to be won or lost. We’ve beaten every one in the league at least once, so it’s not like the impossible will take place if we win.”
The Rebellion, the No. 4 seed in the four-team league, will send Sarah Pauly to the mound as many times as possible in the series.
“We’ll (use) her until she tells us she can’t go any longer,” Rice said.
Pauly has a 4-11 record and a 2.62 ERA. She has 55 strikeouts in 99 innings and a 1.09 WHIP.
The Pride will send out Cat Osterman, the league’s best pitcher with a 16-0 record and a 0.56 ERA. She struck out 162 batters in 100 innings, had a 0.72 WHIP and led the league in seven pitching categories.
The Rebellion have not scored a run off Osterman in 42 innings.
“But,” Rice pointed out, “there have been a lot of close games.”
The Rebellion has a league-low .199 team batting average and ranked last with 27 home runs.
“Our offense has been a weakness,” said Rice. “We don’t have a lot of big-ball hitters. The most runs in a game that we scored was six. It’s hard to rally when you get down like that.”
Second baseman Lauren Lappin leads the Rebellion with a .283 average and DH Courtney Liddle and first baseman Breezy Hamilton are tied for the team lead with five home runs. Rookie catcher Taylor Edwards has a team-high 13 RBI.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Rice said. “We feel we have a chance if we play well.”