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Season of hard work, symbolized by Championship Ring

By Andrew Phillips


2008 World Championship Rings of Ashley Carlson & Bill Sokolis


Elgin: A season of hard work, passion for the sport, blood, sweat and tears, on display and symbolized by one thing, a 2008 NPF World Championship Ring.
A season of dedication, in exchange for a lifetime of memories.
There it was, on display Friday night, in front of over 230 guests at the Heritage Ball Room in the Centre of Elgin. The white-gold ring, glittered with diamonds surrounding the large blue stone placed in the middle of the ring, showing off the name of the Chicago Bandits – the 2008 National Pro Fastpitch World Champions.
“I’m so excited, I’m speechless. It’s gorgeous,” said Bandits rookie Ashley Carlson about her new Championship ring. “I’ve never ever imagined even coming close to something like this and now we’re here, having a ceremony and it’s just an amazing experience.”
Carlson, one of many rookies that made an impact on the Championship run, made the team by way of the open tryouts at the beginning of the 2008 season. The rookies were led in a sense by NPF rookie of the year Rachel Folden, who nested behind the plate as the catcher for the Bandits in ’08.
Folden finished her impressive rookie campaign with 11 homeruns, 38 RBIs, four doubles and one triple on 38-of-122 (.311) batting, while crossing the plate for 25 runs on the year.
The 2008 season didn’t start out as sweet as it ended, with an opening series loss (1-3) to the Rockford Thunder and split series’ with the Canadian and Venezuelan Olympic teams. But, the Bandits turned it around with a home-and-away series against the Washington Glory.
“I think after our Washington series, I think it kind of woke us up,” said Bandits outfielder Nicole Trimboli. “We played them back-to-back at our place and theirs, and we had a rough time over there. When they came to us it was kind of a wakeup call for us. It was either do or die, either we step up or we’re just going to be an average team like everyone else.”
The Bandits stepped up in deed, going on a tear through the league that catapulted them from basement dweller to first place by the end of the regular season.
The Bandits also said goodbye to who Bandits owner Bill Sokolis calls “one of the greatest to ever play the game of softball,” in veteran outfielder Jaime Clark. Clark has been a member of the Bandits since their inception in 2005 and produced her best career season this year.
Looking ahead to the 2009 season the NPF will be joined by an influx of Olympic talent, but the Bandits’ mission remains the same.
“We won, we’ve got to repeat, we have a target on our backs, and we’ve got to defend it,” said Kristina Thorson. “I’m not going to speak for anyone else on the team, but I know I have a lot of stuff to prove so I’m looking forward to playing [every team] and showing them what we’re made of.”

 

 
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