DATE NIGHT: Chicago Bandits home opener Saturday

DATE NIGHT: Chicago Bandits home opener Saturday
6'4 Monica Abbott is the winningest pitcher in the National Pro Fastpitch . (NPF) Softball League. She'll be out for the home opener at the Ballpark at Rosemont

In 2013, the Chicago Bandits fell a couple of games short of the NPF championship.  As they open the 2014 season Saturday night at the Ballpark at Rosemont,  the team will have a new coach, and several new members hoping to repeat their 2011 championship.

The first games of the season will be an opportunity for newcomers like Sara Moulton, Estela Piñon and Ellen Renfroe to stand up and be counted as they face off against the Akron Racers, starting at 7:35 pm.

The Bandits, according to a press statement, will use a mix of veteran leadership and youth for the 2014 season.  Opening the season, the Bandits will look to veteran leaders Tammy Williams, Alisa Goler and Amber Patton to lead the way.  Those three players, according to the statement, remain cogs in the Bandits lineup and will be asked to at least duplicate their efforts from a season ago.

Both Williams and Goler finished in the top 10 in the NPF in batting average last season at .362 and .288, respectively.

Other familiar faces that will be asked to assume larger roles this season include Danielle Zymkowitz and Brittany Cervantes.  Zymkowitz is penciled in as the everyday second baseman and is replacing a softball legend in Vicky Galindo.

The team will be without several key members of the roster, including All-NPF pitchers Michelle Gascoigne and Monica Abbott and NPF Rookie of the Year Andi Williamson.  Both Abbott and Williamson are still in Japan with their pro teams and Gascoigne is currently at the Women’s College World Series as graduate assistant coach for the University of Oklahoma.

Also missing for the Bandits will be reigning NPF Player of the Year Megan Wiggins and All-NPF catcher Kaylyn Castillo who are also still in Japan.  The Bandits will also be without the services of outfielders Emily Allard (school commitment) for the first two games.

The Bandits finished first in the NPF Regular Season in 2014 with a record of 36-12, while the Racers went 16-32. The Bandits ended the 2013 season with the best road record in the NPF at 17-7 and the also compiled the best home record at 19-5.

Probable Starting Pitchers

Saturday, May 31, 7:35 om: CHI: Kirsten Verdun (33-7, 1.76 ERA) vs. Alison Owen (18-12, 2.98 ERA)

Sunday, June 1, 3:05 pm CHI: Estela Piñon (19-9, 3.09 ERA) vs. Lannah Campbell (13-9, 2.77 ERA)

For the second consecutive season, all Chicago Bandits home games will be streamed live on the internet and will be provided at no additional cost.  To access the live stream, fans will need to visit www.highschoolcube.com and search for Chicago Bandits.  All games will be accessible at this time.  Fans can also access the live stream by clicking on the available link on the calendar page of the Bandits website.

Fans will be able to follow live stats all season long by visiting http://www.profastpitch.com/stats/2014/

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