TUSCALOOSA, AL (August 21, 2016) – Shelby Turnier stands about a foot shorter than Monica Abbott, but she was big enough for the moment on Sunday.
The 5-foot-5 rookie right-hander for the Chicago Bandits went pitch-for-pitch with the NPF Pitcher of the Year in Sunday's decisive semifinal game at Rhoads Stadium and shut out the Scrap Yard Dawgs for 4 1/3 innings to take her team to the finals.
Defending Cowles Cup champion Chicago, seeded third, won 2-1 to take two out of three games from the Scrap Yard Dawgs to earn a berth in the best-of-three NPF Championship Series.
Turnier (6-4) entered in relief of lefty Angel Bunner, who allowed just one unearned run in 2 2/3 innings. A standout at the University of Central Florida, Turnier kept the Dawgs off balance with her spin and ball movement.
For the third straight game against the second-seeded Scrap Yard Dawgs, Chicago scored first. Catcher Taylor Edwards hit a one-out double to left field. A walk and an Amanda Kamekona infield single loaded the bases, and Edwards scored on Danielle Zymkowitz's groundout to second to make it 1-0.
Zymkowitz tripled in Kamekona, who had reached on a single over second base, in the third to make it 2-0.
"I think they came up with a good game plan for my pitching style," said Abbott, who pitched Chicago to last year's league championship before signing with the expansion team from the Houston area in the offseason.
The Scrap Yard Dawgs got their only run in the bottom of the inning. Emily Crane hit a single off Bunner and moved to second on Kiki Stokes' sacrifice bunt. Britt Vonk reached on an error and, after Turnier entered to replace Bunner, shortstop Madison Shipman hit an RBI single to left.
Turnier was unfazed. She struck out the next batter to end the inning, and the next four in a row after that. She retired 10 out of 12 batters, issuing a pair of walks, before finally giving up a single to Dawgs outfielder Emilee Koerner to start off the bottom of the seventh inning.
The Scrap Yard Dawgs kept pressing. Chicago turned a double play after Koerner's hit, but the home plate umpire called catcher interference, ruling that Emily Crane's bat hit the catcher's glove, negating the two outs and leaving runners on first and second.
Turnier responded with a strikeout and a fly out, then walked Nerissa Myers to load the bases. Shipman filed out to center field to end it.
"It was a good ballgame," Scrap Yard Dawgs coach Tripp MacKay said. "We just came up short."
Abbott allowed two runs on six hits, striking out nine batters and walking one. She talked after the game about close calls that she didn't get for strikes and hard-hit balls that went straight to Chicago defenders.
"I think literally (we were) a bit unlucky," she said.
Turnier allowed two hits with six strikeouts and three walks for the win in relief. Kamekona went 2-for-3 to lead her team at the plate.
Chicago advanced to the final with a 25-26 record.
The Scrap Yard Dawgs finished 30-21 in their inaugural season with a roster that included 16 rookies.
"They were awesome from the start," MacKay said. "They came together as a team quick. It wasn't a surprise to me that they had a successful season. We had to jump in and just go and let them adjust to the league."
What’s New with the Scrap Yard Dawgs?
Tickets are now on sale for all Scrap Yard Dawgs 2016 home games at www.ScrapYardDawgs.com. The Dawgs have also opened their online store and apparel can now be purchased by all Dawgs fans!
Follow the Dawgs!
Follow the Scrap Yard Dawgs on Facebook (/ScrapYardDawgs), Twitter (@ScrapYardDawgs), or Instagram (@ScrapYardDawgs) to keep up with the latest happenings of the newest team in the NPF. The complete Dawgs game schedule and event tickets can be found at www.scrapyarddawgs.com.
About the Scrap Yard Dawgs
The Scrap Yard Dawgs will begin competition in the National Pro Fastpitch league in 2016. The Dawgs will provide elite softball players the opportunity to pursue a professional career and inspire the next generation of professionals. Located in the Houston area, the Dawgs organization and its players are committed to demonstrating leadership in community involvement, entertainment, and professionalism. Follow the Dawgs at www.scrapyarddawgs.com or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
About the NPF
National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) is headquartered in Nashville, Tenn. The league, created to give elite female fastpitch players the opportunity to pursue a professional career in their chose sport, has operated since 1997 under the names of Women’s Pro Fastpitch (WPF) and Women’s Pro Softball League (WPSL). NPF is the Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball in the category of women’s fastpitch softball and has been since 2002.