Andi Williamson got her feet wet in the world a professional softball last week as she pitched the Chicago Bandits to a 7-1 win over the Akron Racers on Opening Night of the 2013 National Pro Fastpitch season before 1,016 fans at the Ballpark at Rosemont in Rosemont, Ill.
Williamson, a 2009 Chapmanville Regional High School graduate, Harts native and former Marshall University pitcher, tossed a complete game win and allowed only one run.
She said she had a lot of butterflies as she took to the mound for her first time as a pro.
“Very badly,” Williamson said in a post-game interview. “But I have a great support group here. This team is great and once I started throwing my nerves calmed because I knew they were going to make the plays behind me and they did. They turned two double plays. I really enjoy it because it’s a challenge every hitter. You can’t back down and you have to be at your best on every single pitch. I really like the challenge and I’m excited to see what this league has to offer.”
Williamson said she feels good about winning games when her team can score seven runs behind her.
“Very confident,” she said. “Everyone behind me did a great job defensively and offensively. That’s what kept me in the game. Seeing them do so well kept me calm and let me pitch my game.”
Williamson said she feels at home with the Bandits.
“I get really homesick but I feel right at home here,” she said. “Each and every one of them are extremely nice to me and I feel right at place. When I get nervous it’s so nice to have that support behind you.”
Williamson was asked about her southern twang and if it would go away now that she is in the north.
“I don’t think it (accent) is going anywhere,” she joked.
Williamson also pitched Chicago to a win back on June 1 over the Indiana Slammers in an exhibition game.
The Bandits are in New York for a four-game weekend series against the New York/New Jersey Comets.
Chicago rookie pitcher Mel Demezich and veteran hurler Monica Abbott have also pitched the Bandits to wins so far this season. Abbott fired an 11-strikeout, one-hit shutout in a 14-0 victory over the Racers.
The Bandits were 3-1 on the season heading into the series with the Comets, the newest addition to the NPF. The team played last season as the Carolina Diamonds. Chicago, looking for its third league championship, went 9-7 last season against the Diamonds and finished 25-19.
Just last month, Williamson capped off a brilliant season at Marshall in which she led the Herd to their first ever NCAA Softball Tournament berth.
Williamson led Marshall to a 36-22 season this year. The Herd were eliminated from the NCAA Tournament with a 3-2 loss to Virginia Tech at Lexington, Ky. Marshall won 3-1 over Notre Dame and lost 2-1 to Kentucky earlier in the double-elimination tourney.
The Herd won the Conference USA championship with a 3-1 victory over Houston in the finals. Marshall went 4-0 in the conference tournament, which was held in Tulsa, Okla.
This season at Marshall, Williamson won a school record 33 games within the circle and had a 33-18 record and 1.93 ERA. She tossed 322.2 innings and allowed just 89 earned runs while striking out a school record 364 batters. She issued 165 walks and opponents had only a .198 batting average against her.
Bandits sweep NY/NJ
POMONA, N.Y. —The Chicago Bandits swept a road doubleheader at New York/New Jersey on Friday night, winning 5-0 in the first game then taking a 9-6 decision in the nightcap.
All but two Bandits in the Chicago starting lineup recorded at least one base hit and Monica Abbott tossed a four-hit shutout in the first game of the twinbill.
Angel Bunner started on the mound for NY/NJ, giving up 11 hits and three earned runs.
Abbott scattered four hits and a pair of walks with 11 strikeouts to improve to 2-0 overall on the season. The shutout was Abbott’s second this season and she has recorded double digit strikeouts in each game pitched.
In the second game, Chicago defeated New York/New Jersey 9-6 with the help of a seven-run third inning.
Chicago now stands at 5-1 on the season while the Comets drop to 1-5.
Michelle Gascoigne made her first career start in the NPF. The last time she started in a game on June 4, she won a Women’s College World Series title with Oklahoma. Gascoigne allowed eight hits and five Comet runs, while striking out six in six innings of work.
Nikki Nemitz came on in the seventh to relieve Gascoigne.
The Bandits and Comets were slated to play again on Saturday night and then conclude the four-game set with a Sunday contest.