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Bandits send Force to the brink of elimination

August 23, 2008 - National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) - Philadelphia Force News Release

Kimberly, Wisconsin- Rookie of the Year Rachel Folden went 4-for4 with two RBIs to lead the sizzling Comcast Chicago Bandits to a 5-1 victory over the Philadelphia Force in the second round of the NPF playoffs in Kimberly, Wisconsin.

The Bandits, who are now winners of 14 in a row dating back to the regular season, will sit out the early Sunday game as the Force will meet up again with the Washington Glory (1 p.m. ET) for the right to face the Bandits in the championship round. Either the Force or Glory will have to win three games on Sunday to capture the title as they must win the game to advance to meet the Bandits, and then must takes two from Chicago. While Chicago needs just one more victory to claim the Cowles Cup.

Things looked bright for the Force in the top of the first inning. Clare Burnum led off her second straight playoff game with a single to left field. And again Sharonda McDonald singled to put two runners on base. Kellie Wilkerson advanced Burnum to third on a fielder's choice grounder which retired McDonald at second base. Chelsea Spencer got the Force on the board with a sacrifice fly to left to score Burnum.

But the lead did not last for long. Megan Gibson got the first two outs of the first inning, but Folden singled down the left field line. Jaime Clark then followed with a double down the line. With runners on second and third, Nicole Trimboli singled to center to drive in the two runners and she advanced to second on an error by McDonald. Samantha Findley followed with a single to plate Trimboli and the Bandits were up 3-1 after one inning of play.

In the fourth inning, the Bandits put the game out of reach. Aileen Morales, who had two hits on the evening, singled to the start the frame. One out later, a wild pitch moved Morales to second base. Kristie Fox reached on an infield single and Morales stayed at second base. At this point, Katie Burkhart replaced Gibson in the circle, but Folden greeted her by clearing the bases with a double to left center.

Jessica Sallinger picked up the win for the hot Bandits. She pitched the complete game and allowed just four hits. She recorded six strikeouts in the game.

For the Force, Gibson was tabbed for the loss. She allowed nine hits in her 3 1/3 innings in the circle. Of the five runs she was charged with, only three were earned as the Force committed three more errors in this game after committing five in last night's win. Burkhart worked 2 2/3 innings and yielded three hits. Both Force pitchers each struck out three batters.

In the earlier game, the Glory eliminated the New England Riptide with an 11-2 outcome.

The Force and Glory meet at 1 p.m. ET. The winner will stay on the field to face the Bandits immediately following. If the Bandits are knocked off in that game, the same two teams will play another for the championship. The championship game(s) will be streamed on and Gametracker will be available.

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