Akron Racers Draft Pick #1, Rachele Fico, #37, Pitcher, Louisiana State University
After being a nationwide standout in high school. Rachele Fico ended her career with the Louisiana State University Tigers with a 54-30 overall record and 1.50 ERA with 565 strikeouts in 549.2 innings pitched after losing 1-0 to the University of Louisiana-Lafayette on May 19. Despite the Tigers’ elimination from the tournament, Fico still earned a spot on the Baton Rouge All-Regional Team thanks to her strong pitching performances.
On May 20, just one day after the end of her collegiate softball career, Fico had to cope with the tragic passing of her father Ralph from neuroendocrine carcinoma, a form of terminal cancer. To honor Ralph, the Racers will wear a special sticker, zebra print for neuroendocrine carcinoma, with the initials “RF” on it on their helmets this season.
Rachele Fico is due to join the Racers for their first game of the season on June 5 at 8:05 p.m. EST against the Chicago Bandits in Chicago. To follow Fico in her first professional season, head to her player page at http://www.akronracers.org/team/roster/.
Akron Racers Draft Pick #8, Ivy Renfroe #20, Pitcher, University of Tennessee
After beating defending national champion the University of Alabama in the NCAA Knoxville Super Regional, Ivy Renfroe and the University of Tennessee are headed to the Women’s College World Series in Oklahoma City. The Lady Vols swept the Crimson Tide in the best of three series, winning the first game 3-2 on Friday, May 24 and the second game 5-3 the next day. Both games featured the dominant pitching duo of Ivy and her younger sister Ellen.
Ellen started the first game, tossing 3.2 innings and only surrendering two runs to the Tide before Ivy took over the circle in the top of the fourth and proceeded to throw 3.1 innings of shutout relief to pick up the win. Together, the sisters gave up a measly five hits, six walks, and six strikeouts while putting the Lady Vols one win away from Oklahoma City.
The next day, Tennessee once again turned to Ellen and Ivy to pitch them forward in the tournament. Ivy started the game, going 4.0 innings and only allowing three runs while striking out four. She struggled with an apparent blister in the top of the fifth, throwing several consecutive wild pitches before being relieved by Cheyanne Tarango. Tarango, who had a crucial two-run single in the first game, had not pitched in a game since April 20, but nevertheless tossed an inning of scoreless relief before Ellen then stepped in and shut down the Crimson Tide for three more scoreless innings to punch Tennessee’s sixth ticket to the WCWS.
The Lady Vols will take on SEC conference rival and No. 2-seeded the University of Florida in their first game of the WCWS this Thursday, May 30 at 2:30 p.m. EST.
Akron Racers Draft Pick #9, Brianna Turang, #2, Outfielder, University of Oklahoma
The University of Oklahoma Sooners and Brianna Turang proved to the softball world why they are the number-one seed in the tournament this year, terrorizing No. 16 Texas A&M University by scores of 10-2 and 8-0 in the NCAA Norman Super Regional en route to their third straight appearance in the Women’s College World Series.
After heavy rains and poor field conditions forced the first game to be postponed one day, the Sooners waited patiently and came out swinging Friday night against the Aggies, setting the tone for the series with their 23rd run-rule win of season. Oklahoma led 3-2 going into the bottom of the sixth inning, when a four-pitch walk began what would be a seven-run inning. The Sooners then loaded the bases on two singles, including a perfectly placed grounder by Turang that the Aggies couldn’t make a play on. With the bases loaded, Aggie ace Mel Dumezich walked the next two Oklahoma batters, giving the Sooners two insurance runs and punching her ticket out of the game. Her replacement walked her first batter, scoring Turang, and threw a wild pitch that led to another run. That set the stage for Sooner starting pitcher Keilani Ricketts, who capped off the scoring with a walk-off three-run home run. Ricketts also struck out 13 Aggies in her six innings in the circle, while Turang was a perfect 3-3 at the plate with two runs scored and an RBI.
Game two featured a rematch of the previous night’s aces, with Ricketts and Dumezich once again taking the circle for their respective schools. But once again the Sooners put their pitching and punch at the plate on display, tagging Dumezich for eight more earned runs in just 3.2 innings on the way to their 24th run-rule win of the season and a trip to the WCWS. Turang was 1-2 with a run scored at the plate, and her single in the bottom of the fourth inning kept the Sooners alive and led to a four-run rally to bring the Oklahoma up to the final score of 8-0.
The Sooners came into the Super Regional hot after going 3-0 in the Regional round, with three players, including Turang, named to the All-Central Region First team. Turang and the Sooners will next face the University of Michigan Wolverines in their first game of the WCWS on Thursday, May 30 at 9:30 p.m. EST in Oklahoma City.
Akron Racers Draft Pick #12, Brianna Cherry, #23, Outfielder, University of Louisiana at Lafayette
After beating Louisiana State University in the NCAA Baton Rouge Regional, Brianna Cherry and the University of Louisiana Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns looked to continue their season against the University of Michigan Wolverines in the NCAA Ann Arbor Super Regional. But despite a tight fight against the Wolverines, including taking the best-of-three series all the way to the final game, the Cajuns couldn’t hold on.
Undaunted by the Wolverines, the Ragin’ Cajuns came out swinging in their first game in
Ann Arbor, nearly getting on the board in the first inning thanks to a leadoff walk, a Michigan error, and flyout by Cherry that gave the Cajuns a runner on third with only one out. But the team failed to get on the board until two outs in the seventh inning, when Cherry launched a two-run bomb that tied the game and sent it into extra innings. The Cajuns took the lead in the top of the eighth thanks to a solo home run by Matte Haack, but the Wolverines came back in the bottom of the inning with a two-run walk-off home run to take the game. The game one loss meant that the Cajuns would have to win two games the next day to advance to the next round.
Fired up by the desire to stay alive in the tournament, the Ragin’ Cajuns beat Michigan 5-0 in the first game on Saturday, May 25, giving the Wolverines their first home loss of the season. Cherry went 1-3 in the win, which forced the two teams to play for the right to advance in a decisive game three later that day. Despite another strong performance from the circle by Jordan Wallace, the Ragin’ Cajuns lost to the Wolverines 2-1, ending their season. In the game two loss, Cherry went a perfect 2-2 with a walk at the plate.
She finished the season with a .393 batting average with three triples, 14 home runs, and 55 RBIs in 62 games started. In her four-year career patrolling the outfield for the Ragin’ Cajuns, Cherry hit .338 with 24 home runs and 117 RBIs.
After ending her collegiate career, Cherry will make her professional debut when the Racers open the 2013 season at the Chicago Bandits on June 5 at 8:05 p.m. EST. To follow her more closely in her first season of professional softball, check out her player page at http://www.akronracers.org/team/roster/.
Akron Racers Draft Pick #16, Tess Sito, #33, Second Base/Pitcher, University of Georgia
Tess Sito, drafted by the Racers in the fourth round of the NPF draft, officially signed her contract on Sito is due to start practicing with the Racers sometime this week. The only Ohio native on the Racers’ roster, Sito will make her professional debut when the Racers open the 2013 season at the Chicago Bandits on June 5 at 8:05 p.m. EST.
Akron Racers Draft Pick #17, Brigette Del Ponte, #4, Third Base/Shortstop, University of Arizona
Brigette Del Ponte finished her career as a University of Arizona Wildcat with a batting average of .311 and a slugging percentage of .648, along with 50 doubles, 58 home runs, and 223 RBIs.
Pending the signing and approval of her contract, Del Ponte is set to begin her professional career with the Racers when their 2013 season kicks off on June 5 at 8:05 p.m. EST against the Chicago Bandits in Chicago.