A couple weeks ago, Team USA women’s softball team came to Rosemont for some exhibition games against the National Pro Fastpitch Chicago Bandits and the USSSA Pride. Last weekend, the Bandits hosted Team Canada, in the form of the Canadian Wild, for NPF league games.
Based in Marion, a far south Illinois city, the Wild joined the NPF in 2019 in order to prepare the team for the 2020 Olympics. The NPF also includes the Aussie Spirit (Team Australia) based in Mankato, Minnesota, the Beijing Shougang Eagles (Team China) based in Daytona Beach, Florida, and the Cleveland Comets (Team Mexico). In addition to providing those international teams with quality competition, the inclusion of these teams strengthens the league and “increases the reach of the professional softball footprint, not just domestically, but globally,” stated NPF commissioner Cheri Kempf.
The Bandits swept the six-game series, but the Wild played competitively, with four games decided by one run. The Wild left Chicago in third place as they headed into the second half of the season.
The Cleveland Comets came to Rosemont for a five game series and were promptly also swept by the surging Bandits. The sweep extended the Chicago win streak to 13 games.
The Bandits currently are in first place. General Manager Toni Calmeyn has once again assembled an exciting team, bolstered by an excellent 2019 draft class. Coach Lauren Lappin, who starred on the silver medal-winning 2008 USA Olympic team, is doing a great job in her first year at the helm.
In addition to seeing all of the elite international players, fans have been treated to many fun promotional nights at the ballpark. This last home stand featured a Pink Out, as the Bandits wore special pink jerseys to raise awareness of breast cancer in coordination with A Silver Lining Foundation. The jerseys were auctioned off to raise money for the cause. Over the years, money raised through this partnership has paid for more than 150 mammograms. The Pink Out even extended to the stands, as many of the fans wore pink to show their support. It is a fun and emotional night.
The Bandits also had Salute Night, where special Stars and Stripes jerseys were worn and auctioned to benefit Salute, Inc., an organization helping veterans transition to civilian life. Once again, several thousand dollars were raised for this great cause.
The second half of the season promises to be just as much fun. More special nights are scheduled, including Superhero Night, Star Wars Night and Bandits Legend Night, featuring an appearance by Jennie Finch, another medal-winning Olympian.
It all leads to the championship series, which starts Aug. 15 and will be held in Rosemont. I fully expect the Bandits to make the series. I’ll be cheering all the way as I spend many more summer nights at the ballpark.
— John Wroblewski, online writer
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