While the world has awaited, with bated breath, the length of the sentence imposed on New York Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez' suspension from baseball, I've been keeping track of a mountain of great news...all Chicago, all women....it's time to turn our attention away from sports teams that suck the life out of you, and to teams who are achieving greatness before our eyes.
1) Chicago Bandits Are #1....or#2 Seed in NPF Championship Series
The Chicago Bandits have officially clinched the #1 or #2 seed in the National Pro Fastpitch Championship Series and as a result, the squad will play Friday, August 23. The Series will return to The Ballpark at Rosemont for the second year in a row and the final year of a two-year contract for the Championship.
The Championship Series will be structured as follows:
Depending on their regular season finish, the opening day series on Thursday August 22, will feature the NY/NJ Comets and Akron Racers for one game only at 7:00 pm CDT. That game will pit the #4 seed against the #3 seed with high stakes. Only the winner will continue Series play. The loser of Thursday’s game will be eliminated.
Friday’s lineup will open up at 5:30 pm CDT with the winner of Thursday’s game facing off against the #2 seed in the Series. The loser of Friday’s opening game is eliminated. The winner of Game 2 will move into the Championship’s Final series, which is a best of three series against the Championship’s #1 seed.
Game 1 of the Final Series is slated for an 8:30 CDT start time on Friday night.
The Championship’s Final Series will continue Saturday with Game 2 at 4:00 pm CDT.
Game 3 of the Final Series, the “if necessary” game, if needed, is scheduled for 7:00 pm CDT.
Sunday will be a provisional rain date in the case of inclement weather throughout the Series.
The 2012 version of the NPF Championship series was markedly different. The Bandits won the first game of the series with the USSSA Pride, and looked on their way to repeating as NPF champion. However, a downpour ensued, canceling the final two games. With Bandits and Pride players scheduled to start overseas play, the NPF also decided not to declare a winner, which angered players and fans alike.
The NPF vowed to never let that happen again. So help them. A winner will be declared this year. And the Bandits look good. Real good.
2) Chicago Force Earn WFA Championship Title, Undefeated Season
While many of us (including me) were attending the Chicago Bears Fan Fest at Soldier Field, observing the (new) and (improved?) Bears offense under new Coach Marc Trestman, I was following the the tweets of @chicagoforce as they beat a tough Dallas Diamonds team into submission. For the first time in team history, the Force (12-0) won the national championship with an 81-34 victory over the Dallas Diamonds (11-1) Saturday night at Balboa Stadium in San Diego.
Last year, the Force lost the title game to the San Diego Surge 40-36 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.
“This has been an amazing journey,” Chicago Force owner Linda Bache told reporter John Montgomery after the the game. Bache, a former player, said after the win. “I’m so proud of this team. This has been a long time coming.”
“We’ve had a ton of success, however everybody measures success by the number of championships you win,” head coach John Konecki stated.
Jay Cutler could learn a few things from Samantha "Sami" Grisafe, the co-MVP and winning quarterback, who threw 49 touchdown passes on the season and added eight during the championship game.
“We left no doubt that we are the best team in women’s tackle football,” Bache said in a statement on the team's Website .
Dallas entered the contest with one of the best defenses in the WFA as the Diamonds allowed only 20 points during the regular season with four shutouts. The Diamonds beat the Central California War Angels 27-6 in the American conference championship game.
Grisafe and Jessica Javelet were named co-offensive MVPS in the championship game.
3) Delle Donne Earns Second Consecutive Rookie of the Month
The WNBA announced Monday that Chicago Sky guard/forward Elena Delle Donne was named Rookie of the Month for July. This is the second Rookie of the Month Award for Delle Donne who took home the award for the month of June.
Over the course of July, Delle Donne was the top rookie in points (16.4), free throw
percentage (,909) and minutes (30.8). She ranked seventh overall in free throw
percentage, eighth in scoring and second in blocks (1.6). Delle Donne scored in the
double-digits in six out of her seven games played during the month.
On July 2, Delle Donne achieved her first double-double of the season, scoring 12 points
and taking down 12 rebounds against the Seattle Storm. She followed with 23 points,
going 9-for-9 at the charity stripe, against the Connecticut Sun on July 12. She matched
her career high in blocks (4) against New York on July 18 and July 20.
Also...Delle Donne made history by becoming the first rookie player to win the
WNBA All-Star vote. She captured 35,646 fan votes to put her ahead of veterans
Candace Parker and Tamika Catchings. Delle Donne also was awarded the WNBA
Eastern Conference Player of the Week (July 2-July 7) award for her performances on
July 2 and July 7.
I spoke with Elena after the Sky's win over the Indiana Fever on Friday, which she sat out due to symptoms of her concussion. She's day-to-day, but is "feeling better."
The Sky will try to avenge a Saturday loss by facing the Indiana Fever on Tuesday, August 6 at Allstate Arena.
4) Chicago Red Stars Stay in Playoff Picture By Getting Past Hope Solo
After a back and forth physical battle on the field, the Red Stars sealed a victory against the Seattle Reign in front of a sold out home crowd of 3,400 people. A 3-1 final score knocked the Seattle Reign out of the running for a spot in the NWSL playoffs and kept the Red Stars dreams alive as they aim for the final playoff spot. Inka Grings notched two goals and Sonja Fuss added a PK. The Reign’s only goal was scored by Kaylyn Kyle off a penalty kick.
“We’ve been playing in games that have been must-wins for over a month,” said Head Coach Rory Dames. “We don’t really feel pressure because we don’t consider ourselves the favorites in anything. The players have done extraordinary and I’m extremely proud of the group.”
The Seattle Reign offense was led by midfielder and national team member Megan Rapinoe, who created opportunities early in the match with a perfectly placed cross ball and a free kick. But the Red Stars would strike first with an 11th minute earned penalty kick off a Reign handball in the box. German international defender Sonja Fuss took the kick and fired her shot into the left corner of the goal, putting the home side up 1-0 early. The Reign answered with their own penalty kick conversion in the 27th minute. Liz Bogus went down inside the box allowing an opportunity for the Reign to earn the equalizer. Kaylyn Kyle fired a fast, low ball into the bottom right corner. Red Stars keeper Taylor Vancil dove to the right side of the goal but wasn’t able to stop the shot.
In the 41st minute Solo attempted to clear the ball out of the backfield but the ball hit Inka Grings in the chest. Grings gained control of the ball and fired a shot into the back of the net past Solo to secure a 2-1 lead before the end of the half.
In this physical match, yellow cards were given to Red Stars player Michelle Wenino and Seattle Reign players Emily Van Egmond and Keelin Winters.
The Red Stars will return for their last home game of the season against the Sky Blue FC on Saturday, August 10, at 6 p.m, at the Lisle Sports Complex at Benedictine University.
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