The Carolina Diamonds, a women’s professional fast-pitch softball team, will wrap up their 2012 home season with a series of games against league-leading USSSA Pride. The Florida-based Pride are chock full of former Olympians.
“The Pride is number one in the league at this point and is playing well. We need to come out, get on fire again and give them some competition so we can play them in a couple of weeks too,” Diamonds’ head coach Lisa Navas said.
Seven former American Olympians are on the Pride: Natasha Watley, Cat Osterman, Jessica Mendoza and Kelly Kretschmen won gold at the Athens 2004 Games while Osterman, Medoza, Kretschman, Caitlin Lowe, Lauren Lappin and Andrea Duran came away from the 2008 Beijing Games with silver medals in the final year of the Olympics featuring softball.
The two teams play Thursday and Friday at Five County Stadium outside Raleigh in Zebulon, then conclude the series Saturday and Sunday in Kannapolis, at CMC-NorthEast Stadium. Carolina then ends the season next weekend in Chicago against the Bandits. After the regular season ends, it’s time for the league’s War of the Roses championship tournament in Chicago August 23-26.
Navas and the Diamonds have to approach this weekend’s series like they would any other series, even if it is against such a strong team. “You don’t hype up the other team or anything like that. If we play what we are capable of in terms of not giving away any runs or giving away outs, taking care of what we can, usually we come out on top,” Navas said.
Batters are not going to get many chances against a pitcher like Cat Osterman either, especially with the Pride’s ace record at 6-4 with a .77 ERA. Carolina pitcher Katie Burkhart is 8-8 with a 3.15 ERA, though, and the Diamonds’ sluggers are strong.
Kelsi Weseman leads the league with nine home runs and teammates Rachel Folden and GiOnna DiSalvatore are behind her with eight and seven homers each. Weseman and Folden both have 23 RBIs, two behind USSSA’s league leader Kristyn Sandberg. Folden is also tied for second best batting average, hitting .398 along with the Pride’s Natasha Watley.
“She (Osterman) usually buckles down in situations. We have to put the ball in play. We rocked them 11-2 earlier in the season and hopefully we can get it going again towards our way,” Navas said.
Overall, with the final four home games soon to occur, Navas can say it’s been a good first season for the Diamonds for the home crowd to witness.
“The owners (Amy Nemeth and Alan Damaske) have made a great name, it’s been a great team here and hopefully it will move forward in the future,” she said.
WANT TO GO?
Tickets to the Diamonds at CMC-Northeast Stadium at $9 to $15 in advance, a dollar more at the gate. Special rates for groups. See http://www.yourcarolinadiamonds.com/