Chicago Bandits win 8-2 in Patton's home finale
Amber Patton made her final home game as a member of the Chicago Bandits a memorable farewell.
After squandering an early 2-0 lead, a 3-run fifth inning propelled the Bandits to an 8-2 victory over the Akron Racers to claim the series and send Bandits fans home happy one more time in 2015 in the regular season finale at home.
"It's really exciting that we're clicking at the right time," Patton said. "We fought tonight and came out on top and that's a great way to go out."
Patton, a longtime fan favorite, laced up for the last time at The Ballpark at Rosemont after seven seasons at the hot corner. She was instrumental in the win, going 2-for-4 with two runs scored. Patton was removed from the game with 2 outs in the seventh inning to a standing ovation from the crowd and a special video tribute was played after the game.
"It was just a moment to cherish the memories and look back and see how fun of a ride it has been," Patton said. "We got the chance to reflect on what we've done together."
While Patton was terrific in her final game at home, Taylor Edwards was the force behind the offensive explosion, smacking her team-leading eighth and ninth home runs of the season and collecting five RBIs in the game. With the Bandits ahead 5-2 in the sixth, Edwards hit her second bomb, a 3-run shot to left-center, to put the game out of reach.
"(Racers' starter Sarah Pauly) is a great pitcher and great competitor," Edwards said. "I just stayed with my routine and trusted my plan."
Taylor Schlopy provided the lone offense of the game for the Racers, matching Edwards with her ninth home run of the season. Schlopy and Edwards are now tied atop the NPF in that category. However, that was the lone blemish for Michelle Gascoigne in the circle for the Bandits. Gascoigne tossed a complete game six-hitter to pick up her fifth win of the season.
However, while Edwards may have provided the highlights, tonight was all about Patton. Bandits shortstop Tammy Williams, who has known Patton the longest of anyone on the team, said that Patton's performance tonight was indicative of what she has meant to the Bandits organization over the course of the past seven years.
"(Patton) is an incredible teammate and an incredible person," Williams said. "She's a big reason why the Bandits are who we are today and she's the reason why we're going to go in and win another championship."
On the other end of the spectrum, Edwards, who has known Patton for just a short while, said that every desiring softball player should model her game after Patton.
"On the field (Patton) is a competitor, a bulldog," Edwards said. "Off the field, she's a great person. She'll be there for you no matter what. That's just in her heart."
As an emotional Patton departed in the seventh, Edwards caught her as she was headed to the dugout and had one final remark.
"I just told her to look forward to getting another ring," Edwards said with a grin.
Alongside Williams, her longtime teammate and friend, Patton had one salute to the Bandits organization and fans before heading over to meet her family and friends.
"It's been a true privilege to have played for this team for the past seven years," Patton said. "I wouldn't want to play for anyone else."
Following their series victory over the Racers, the Bandits will head to Texas for their final regular season series against the Dallas Charge before taking off to Hoover, Ala. for the NPF Championship Series. First pitch for the opener is set for 7 p.m. Sunday.