There are mixed emotions from the Chicago Bandits management and players as we continue the three-game series today against the Akron Racers in Bellevue, Nebraska. The team is now in first-place by one and one-half game and is playing well. Three of the Bandits players, Stacey May, Rachel Folden, and Emily Friedman lead the league in hitting, and Kristina Thorson picked up her 7th win last night with a complete-game 6-4 win over Akron.
Tempering the enthusiasm of the team's success was yesterday's announcement that star-pitcher and women's softball ambassador Jennie Finch is going to retire at the end of the Chicago Bandit's season to spend more time with her family. I can only imagine how difficult this decision was for her, but I applaud her for making it. Travel and commitments can play havoc on a family, and she felt that it was time to devote more time to her husband, Casey Daigle, who pitches in the Houston Astros organization, and their four-year old son Ace.
The amazing this about her announcement is the timing of the decision. Most athletes announce their retirements when their skills have diminished and they can no longer compete on the field of play. Nothing could be further from the true with Finch. She recently pitched a perfect game against the Akron Racers in a game that was played before a large crowd at Silver Cross Field, the home of the Joliet Jackhammers minor league baseball team, and followed that performance with another two-hitter to beat NPF ERA and strikeout leader Monica Abbott and the Tennessee Diamonds. On top of all that, she is currently hovering around the .400 mark as a hitter when she is not pitching.
Rest assured, Jennie will stay involved in the game she loves, as a consultant, ambassador, and maybe some day as a partner with an NPF team. For right now, the season continues with an appearance at the National games in Oklahoma City, and then back home with the Bandits for the home stretch of the 2010 season.
Judson University in Elgin, the home of the Bandits, will be hopping from August 19th through the 22nd, when Finch and the Bandits take on the Tennessee Diamonds in a five-game series to end the regular season. After that, it's off to Sulphur, Louisiana for the National Pro Fastpitch World Series to crown the 2010 NPF champion.
The league, fans, and the Bandits will all miss Jennie Finch, but at least we get the opportunity to see her go out at the top of her game.
For Bandits tickets, call 1-877-7BANDIT or go to their website at chicagobandits.com.