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ThunderBolts Notebook: Battle of the Sexes for T-Bolts, Bandits

Windy City Thunderbolts' Andrew Brauer (4) Joliet Slammers catcher Ben Hewett. | JCunningham~For Sun-Times Media

Windy City Thunderbolts' Andrew Brauer (4) and Joliet Slammers catcher Ben Hewett. | Jon Cunningham~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: July 24, 2014 6:19AM



The Windy City ThunderBolts have been swinging the bats better lately, but how would they fare stepping into the batter’s box against a professional softball pitcher armed with a repertoire of riseballs and dropballs?

Fans will get a chance to find out.

The T-Bolts will host the Chicago Bandits of the National Pro Fastpitch softball league in a Battle of the Sexes game at 7 p.m. Monday.

Gates will open at 5 p.m. for a special batting-practice viewing.

The Bandits have had plenty of success in past contests, going 4-1 in Battle of the Sexes games. They beat the Normal CornBelters 7-0 on June 3.

It’ll be the first time the Bandits and T-Bolts square off.

Getting offensive

For as much as the offense has struggled at times, the numbers show the T-Bolts have the potential to be among the Frontier League’s best.

The T-Bolts entered Sunday ranked fourth in the league with a .260 team batting average, but just 11th in runs per game at 3.9.

“We’re just not getting enough timely hits,” second baseman Ryan Soares said. “We need to string some hits together and make productive outs, move guys over and get them in.”

For awhile, Kyle Robinson seemed to be the only T-Bolt producing at the plate. Robinson’s tear has continued.He is hitting a league-best .407 and ranks fourth in the league with 27 RBI and ninth with five home runs.

“Robinson was carrying us,” infielder Mike Torres said. “Now other guys are getting going.”

Jon Mestas, who got limited playing time over the first three weeks of the season, has become a regular and is hitting .310. Ty Stetson, a rookie out of Murray State, has been a nice addition, hitting .277.

Andrew Brauer also is heating up, batting .350 over the last week to raise his average to .286.

“I feel more comfortable at the plate,” Brauer said. “I’ve had a lot of at-bats lately. The first couple weeks I was getting some days off and now I’m getting at-bats every day. I’m grateful for the opportunity and it’s helping a lot.”

The T-Bolts entered Sunday at 13-18 and last in the Frontier League West Division, 5½ games out of a wild-card spot.

They would like to make up some ground over the next couple of weeks. Beginning Tuesday at Normal, they play 12 straight games against teams under .500.

Hall call

Former T-Bolts manager Morgan Burkhart was chosen as part of the inaugural class for the Frontier League’s new Hall of Fame.

Burkhart, who managed Windy City in 2012, won the league’s Most Valuable Player award — which is now named after him — three straight seasons from 1996 to ’98.

Other members of the class announced Thursday are former players Aaron Ledbetter, Scott Pinoni, Fran Riordan and Kirk Taylor, league founder Dr. W. Chris Hanners, and the special moment of Brett Gray’s 25-strikout game for the London Werewolves.



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