Written by Nina Zimmerman
Akron Racers Draft Pick #1, Rachele Fico, #37, Pitcher, Lousiana State University
Hosting their NCAA Regional Tournament, Rachele Fico and the No. 9-seeded Louisiana State Tigers only needed six innings to blank Central Connecticut State University 11-0 on Friday, May 17. But the Tigers lost the next day 3-0 to Fico’s fellow Racers draftee Brianna Cherry and No. 21-seeded the University of Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns. Fico took the loss to the Cajuns, pitching a complete game and giving up only three earned runs and two hits while striking out seven. One of those two hits, however, was a two-run home run to Fico’s future Racers teammate Cherry. The Tigers faced elimination Saturday evening but beat Central Connecticut once again to advance to the championship game against the Ragin Cajuns on Sunday, May 19. But the Tigers couldn’t tame the Cajuns, ending their season with a close 1-0 loss and bringing their overall record to 42-16. From the circle, Fico pitched another complete game for the Tigers and only gave up two hits to the Ragin Cajuns. She finished the season with a 24-13 overall record with a 2.34 ERA and 232 strikeouts in 224.1 innings pitched. Her career numbers with the Tigers are equally as a strong, with a 54-30 overall record and 1.50 ERA with 565 strikeouts in 549.2 innings pitched.
Akron Racers Draft Pick #8, Ivy Renfroe #20, Pitcher, University of Tennessee
Ivy Renfroe and No. 7-seeded the University of Tennessee Lady Vols hosted the Knoxville Regional of the NCAA tournament this past weekend and won all three of their games to clinch the regional title and move on to the next round. Friday evening, May 17, Renfroe dominated Longwood University from the circle and struck out six Lancers in the 9-0 shutout victory. The Lady Vols had to fight harder for their next win, outlasting North Carolina State University to win 1-0 in 11 innings and advance to the championship game on Sunday. The next day, Tennessee faced NC State once again with the regional title on the line. Renfroe took the ball for the Lady Vols and pitched a complete game shutout with five strikeouts en route to a 7-0 win and the right to advance on to the NCAA Super Regional.
Tennessee will host the No. 10-seeded University of Alabama this weekend in Knoxville for the NCAA Super Regional, with the first game scheduled for Friday, May 24 at 7:00 p.m. EST.
Akron Racers Draft Pick #9, Brianna Turang, #2, Outfielder, University of Oklahoma
Brianna Turang and the No. 1-seeeded Oklahoma University Sooners got rolling in their NCAA Regional tournament this past weekend, winning all three of their games one the way to capturing the regional title and advancing past the regional round for the fourth year in a row. The Sooners kicked off the tournament Friday evening, May 17 against Marist College in Norman, Oklahoma. In the bottom of the first inning, the Sooner offense exploded and scored eight runs to kickstart a 17-0 victory that only lasted five innings. The next day, the Sooners’ bats came alive again against the University of Arkansas. Oklahoma handily beat the Razorbacks 10-5 and advanced to the title game the next day. In the championship game on Sunday, the Sooners only needed five innings to win the regional title, demolishing Arkansas 14-1 thanks in part to four Razorback errors that led to nine unearned runs. In Oklahoma’s three wins, Turang was 3-7 with one RBI, two walks, and three runs scored.
Turang and the Sooners next face Texas A&M University in the NCAA Super Regional, also in Norman, this coming Thursday, May 23 at 7:00 p.m. EST.
Akron Racers Draft Pick #12, Brianna Cherry, #23, Outfielder, University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Brianna Cherry and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Ragin Cajuns dominated the Baton Rouge NCAA Regional this past weekend, winning all three of their regional matchups and winning the title and a spot in the next round. The Ragin Cajuns beat Northwestern State University 3-0 on Friday, May 17 to stay in the winners’ bracket, and Cherry contributed a single and a stolen base. They faced Racers’ draftee Rachele Fico and Louisiana State University on Saturday, May 18, beating the Tigers 3-0 to advance to the championship game. Cherry hit a two-run home run against her future teammate and provided 2/3 of the Cajun offense for the day. Riding the momentum of those two wins, Louisiana shut down LSU 1-0 in the title game on Sunday, May 19 for the Ragin Cajuns’ third shutout of the tournament. Louisiana only needed two hits, a single and a double, to tame the Tigers, and the game’s lone run came on a double, a sacrifice fly, and an error by the LSU shortstop in the top of the first inning.
With the win, Cherry and the Ragin Cajuns will now head to Ann Arbor, Michigan to face the University of Michigan in the NCAA Super Regional round starting on Friday, May 24 at 1:00 p.m. EST.
Akron Racers Draft Pick #16, Tess Sito, #33, Second Base/Pitcher, University of Georgia
After bowling over San Diego State University 9-3 on May 17, Tess Sito and the University of Georgia Bulldogs stayed in the winners’ bracket of their NCAA Regional tournament in Tempe, Arizona. The next day they lost to No. 5-seeded Arizona State University 2-0 but beat San Diego State once again 3-2 to advance to regional championship game against Arizona State. The Bulldogs couldn’t handle the Sun Devils, and fell once again by a score of 2-0 on Sunday, May 19. The loss eliminated them from the NCAA tournament and ended their season. The Bulldogs’ 40-21 overall record marks their 12th-straight season with 40 or more wins. Sito was 4-12 over the weekend, and her single in the bottom of the fifth inning of the championship game against the Sun Devils was a crucial part of the Bulldogs’ best chance to score a run. In her final season with the Bulldogs, Sito hit .335 with 7 home runs, 15 doubles, 30 RBIs, and a .400 on base percentage.
Akron Racers Draft Pick #17, Brigette Del Ponte, #4, Third Base/Shortstop, University of Arizona
Brigette Del Ponte and the University of Arizona Wildcats began the NCAA Regional tournament in College Station, Texas last Friday night with a tough 7-0 loss to Baylor University. They tried to bounce back the next day, but despite beating the University of Pennsylvania 3-2 in eight innings Saturday afternoon, the Wildcats lost once more to Baylor Saturday night, eliminating them from the tournament and ending their season with a record of 33-26. This is also the first time since 2004 that Arizona has failed to make it past the regional round of the NCAA tournament. Del Ponte played solid defense at shortstop but was relatively quiet at the plate, going a collective 0-6 in the first two games. But her bat woke up in the Wildcats’ second game against Baylor when she went 1-2 with a double and two RBIs. Del Ponte finished her career as a Wildcat with a batting average of .311 and a slugging percentage of .648, along with 50 doubles, 58 home runs, and 223 RBIs.