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Lightning 241 for 5 (K Bryce 109*, Munro 50) beat Thunder 238 for 9 (Threlkeld 91, Ballinger 5-29) by five wickets
Thunder captain Ellie Threlkeld posted a career-best 91 as Thunder made 238 for 9 in their 50 overs but it was not enough to prevent the North West representative side suffering a second defeat after Bryce and Sophie Munro, whose 50 was also a career-best, shared a 133-run partnership for the fifth wicket.
Threlkeld hit six fours and faced 117 balls after being dropped on three, a vital innings to help her side post a competitive score in the absence of Emma Lamb on England duty.
East Midlands side Lightning were without England spinner Kirstie Gordon and further hampered by the loss of Marie Kelly from their batting resources after the former Central Sparks player suffered a hand injury while fielding, but overcame both. Thunder took the match into the last over but Bryce's 15th boundary saw the home side to victory with five balls to spare.
Thunder had found themselves in early trouble after choosing to bat first, Ballinger's opening spell left them 36 for 3 midway through the seventh over.
The 20-year-old from Birmingham had Georgie Boyce leg before and bowled Danielle Collins with her seventh ball then should have had a third wicket in her third over as Kelly dived to her right at slip but could not hold on as Threlkeld was allowed to escape.
West Indies batter Deandra Dottin hammered 20 in an over off Australian seamer Piepa Cleary, including three fours and a six over long-on, but Dottin's aggression was short-lived as Ballinger soon had her leg before.
Threlkeld made the most of her reprieve, adding 83 for the fourth wicket with Nat Brown before the latter was caught at backward square leg sweeping Cleary, and 73 for the fifth with former Lightning batter Shachi Pai, who fell for 27, top-edging one that eventually came down into the gloves of wicketkeeper Sarah Bryce as Ballinger returned to claim her fourth wicket in the 42nd over.
Threlkeld, dropped again on 89, was run out by Cleary's direct hit from mid-on, after which Daisy Mullan dragged one on to give Ballinger her fifth wicket before Teresa Graves had Phoebe Graham stumped and Cleary saw Hannah Jones caught at mid-off.
Lightning's response saw them 55 for 1 after the opening 10 powerplay overs, compared with Thunder's 48 for 3, Beth Harmer having hit three fours in an eventful Graham over that saw her dropped on the boundary. Soon afterwards, she was bowled by Laura Jackson.
Sarah Bryce plundered 25 of her 33 runs in another two expensive overs from the right-arm seamer Graham and her departure, bowled through the gate by Brown was another blow for Lightning, compounded when Gwenan Davies was given out leg before to Alex Hartley's left-arm spin.
But Thunder could not find another breakthrough as Lightning reached the 30-over mark needing another 114 at 5.7 per over, their bowlers offering too many scoring opportunities, with skipper Bryce and 20-year-old Munro, primarily a bowler playing here as a batter only, wasting few of them.
Munro completed her maiden List A fifty off 63 balls with eight fours and though she was bowled by left-arm spinner Jones without addition she had helped her skipper take Lightning close to the winning line. Bryce completed her second List A hundred when she drove Dottin through the covers for her 14th boundary before pulling Brown to the ropes to win the match.