CHICAGO—For the second straight night, big innings doomed the Cleveland Comets in their quest for their first win in franchise history. The Chicago Bandits scored two runs in the bottom of the first and one in the second to take a 3-0 lead then scored four in the fourth and three more in the fifth to pull away from the Comets in a 10-0 win at the Ballpark at Rosemont on Friday.
“I thought our pitcher did great,” said Cleveland Comets coach Charlotte Morgan of rookie hurler Ping Fan. “We just had some throwing errors and we weren’t thinking plays ahead of us. We were playing slow. I don’t know if that was the weather or what, but that’s no excuse. We were just behind on defense today.”
Fan allowed seven runs—just three earned—on 11 hits and struck out one in four innings of work. Many of those hits were of the broken bat variety. She also walked just one Bandit hitter.
“They got a lot of bloop hits off Ping Fan,” Morgan said. “Those are hard to defend but we have to be able to make the plays behind her. That’s just growing. I expect the effort and the focus to be there and I don’t think our focus was there on defense.”
Of the 73 pitches Ping Fan threw, 52 were strikes as she commanded her fastball and changeup.
“I was pretty nervous at first because I have never had the (pro) experience, but after throwing the first pitch everything was the same,” Ping Fan said. “I just need to have a strong mindset to play.”
Wang Yan closed out the game. She allowed two earned runs on three hits.
The Comets committed three errors in the game.
Offensively, Cleveland doubled its hit total from Thursday’s season opener but still, the Comets managed only four hits and left six runners in scoring position.
“I expect my people who I bring in to have better at-bats,” Morgan said. “From top to bottom in our lineup, we were taking too many strikes and swinging at too many balls. We have to go up there with a plan and stick to our plan and attack it. I don’t feel like they got us out much; I think we got ourselves out by swinging at a lot of balls. We’ve got to be more disciplined and stick to our plan.”
Jade Rhodes, Zhao Jing, Li Na and Liu Feifei each finished 1-for-2 for the Comets while Chloe Miller and Alexa Peterson both hit the ball hard but right at Bandit defenders.
“I thought Jade Rhodes did a great job tonight at the plate. She had one hard hit and one hit the 5-6 hole and Chloe ripped one to right with the win and on a different day it might have gone out,” Morgan said. “I think we’re hitting the ball a bit more solid. We’re also reading the defense getting the bunts. Feifei did a good job reading the defense. You see some of those pieces come together and that’s all I can ask.”
Despite the three errors, the Cleveland defense had its moments. Li Na and Zhao Jing twisted a double play and Xie Yue quick first step led to a great play at second base for the second night in a row.
On Thursday, she corralled a line drive up the middle and on Friday she fielded a deflection off the glove of Zhao Jing and threw out the batter.
“I think she does a great job,” Morgan said of Xie Yue. “She’s probably the one that reads the ball the most. Her first step is really good. I see a lot of great things from her. I really like what I’m seeing from her, especially coming off the bench and going in today to make those great plays.”
The Comets and Bandits continue their series on Saturday at 7:35 p.m. Rookie Randi Rupp is scheduled to make her pro debut in the circle for the Comets.
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