Five Takeaways From Week 4 Of Athletes Unlimited
Week 4 of the Athletes Unlimited season might have been the best yet. It’s still clearly a hitters’ league, but we finally saw some statement performances from a few pitchers not named Cat Osterman. Jessie Warren and Victoria Hayward, meanwhile, put together two of the best rosters of the season—but only one of them could go 3-0.
Here are five things we learned this weekend, with just one week of the inaugural season remaining.
Cat Osterman is human. Sometimes. Osterman entered this week undefeated this season at 9-0, but Hayward’s Blue team handed the southpaw her first loss on Saturday afternoon. Osterman struck out 10 and walked just one, but she allowed nine hits including three solo home runs in the 4-1 defeat. Sahvanna Jaquish tagged her for a go-ahead blast in the fifth, and she and Haylie McCleney hit back-to-back shots in the seventh. Haylie Wagner was masterful in the circle for Team Hayward, allowing four hits over the full seven innings. But Osterman was herself again on Monday night, throwing a complete-game five-hit shutout against Janie Reed’s Orange team with 16 strikeouts.
Jaquish and McCleney were quite the one-two punch—but they were no match for Team Warren’s depth. Jaquish had her second multi-home run game of the weekend on Sunday against Team Reed, and she and McCleney went back-to-back again in the seventh of an 8-3 win. McCleney homered again on Monday against Warren’s Purple team, but Team Warren claimed a 7-5 victory behind three hits from Aleshia Ocasio and a two-run homer by Erika Piancastelli. Warren’s crew won all three games this weekend, starting with a 2-1 win over Team Reed. Ocasio went the distance and gave up just three hits, and Warren and Piancastelli hit back-to-back jacks in the first inning to give her all the support she needed. Team Warren then thrashed Team Osterman 11-0, with Jessica Burroughs and Taylor McQuillin combining on the shutout.
Trish Parks was welcomed rudely to the league. Parks became Athletes Unlimited’s 57th player this week, even though Ocasio returned after missing Week 3 due to a family issue. Parks made her debut in the circle for Team Osterman on Sunday, and Team Warren’s powerful lineup jumped all over the Cal State Fullerton product. Warren led off with a home run, and after a single and a walk, Morgan Howe hit a three-run shot, meaning Parks had allowed four runs before recording an out. She was relieved a short time later after getting just one out, finishing with negative-26 points.
Chiddy Chiddy Bang Bang. Amanda Chidester is one of Athletes Unlimited’s highest-profile players—she was the National Pro Fastpitch MVP last year with the Chicago Bandits and will play for Team USA in the 2021 Olympics. But after being the first draft pick in Athletes Unlimited history, Chidester has struggled, and still ranks 48th in the league in total points. This week, though, she finally hit her first long ball, a three-run homer over the left field party deck off her Bandits teammate Kelly Barnhill. Chidester was visibly relieved to have broken out, with her mouth wide open and her hands raised to the sky as she rounded the bases.
Danielle O’Toole took two hard-luck losses. O’Toole got the start for Team Reed on Saturday, and after giving up the aforementioned first-inning home runs to Warren and Piancastelli, she was brilliant the rest of the day, giving up just one more hit. But her team could only manage a single run in the seventh, tagging O’Toole with a 2-1 defeat. Then on Monday night, she and Osterman staged a scoreless duel for four innings before O’Toole finally blinked, giving up two runs in the fifth—which turned out to be the only two runs of the game.