Photo by: www.akronracers.org/ Wheelie is ready for you Racers fans to come cheer at Firestone Stadium
The five games to start the season were full of ups and downs and now the Racers come home to Firestone Stadium for a four game series against the PA Rebellion.
Akron, OH--The start of 2015 season, just five games in, has provided softball fans with spectacular offense and stellar pitching from different players. From Jill Barrett, leading the team in batting average (.389) and hits (7), and Kailee Cuico, leads the team in doubles (3) and slugging percentage (.706), the offense is clicking on all cylinders.
The pitching has also been effective for the Racers. Laura Winter, in her first start of the season against the PA Rebellion, only gave up 3 hits and 1 run in 4 IP. The Racers won their first game of the season against the PA Rebellion on May 31st. Lisa Norris, who leads the Racers in ERA (1.31), went up against the No. 3 overall pick in the NPF draft, Lacey Waldrop, on Friday. Norris gave up 8 hits, only letting the Bandits offense score 3 runs, closing out jams she got into during the game. Waldrop’s stellar pitching stunned the Racers the entire night, only getting home 1 run for entire game, a home run by 1B Kailee Cuico to center field in the second inning.
Ashley Thomas, plays at second base for the Racers. She currently has 1 home run on the season, with 5 strikeouts. She says she promises to be more patient on at the plate and says the team is working hard, despite the rough start with getting runners home in scoring position. The Racers against Waldrop were 0-6 with runners on base and 0-3 with runners in scoring position.
“We had two good series matchups with the PA Rebellion and the Chicago Bandits, but we were still a little disappointed in our performance,” said Thomas, who added that Lacey Waldrop was one of the toughest pitchers she has ever faced.
Thomas added that Racers center fielder Taylor Schlopy told her that the beginning of the season is always a pitcher’s game. “We are just trying to figure out new pitchers like Lacey. Chemistry will build and we will gain as much information we can on the opposing pitcher so we are prepared,” said Thomas.
Racers Manager Brian Levin said he’s impressed the job the players are doing at the mound and the plate, but said defense will be the goal for the season to improve upon. “From a coaching standpoint, I just have to give the players the tools and tips they need to succeed,” said Levin, who along with assistant field manager Dustin Combs are the reigning 2014 NPF Coaching Staff of The Year. “One example against the Bandits where 3B Kelley Montalvo threw a ball to second base for an out, but the ball traveled into right field. Some of those things just can’t happen.”
Levin says that even with the defensive hiccups, he believes this group is a bunch of “go-getters who love to work and learn. “Whether adjusting the lineups depending on the opponent, change can happen throughout the course of a season. We have to drive runners home, make some key defensive plays, and we’ll be fine.”
Now that the Racers are coming off a 5 game road trip to start the season, they get to play in front of the home crowd at Firestone Stadium on Thursday, June 11th at 7:05 p.m. Thomas said that she is excited to see the seats filled with diehard Racers fans.
“I’m so excited,” said Thomas. “The seats have been empty for too long. I miss all of the fans. They are great.” Thomas even mentioned her family is coming down from Arkansas to watch her play. “I miss my family and I can’t wait to see them. It’s been awhile.”
About the Akron Racers: The Akron Racers, headquartered in Akron, OH, is the oldest existing team in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) league. The Racers competed in the Women's Pro Softball League (WPSL) for two seasons in 1999 and 2000 and in the NPF since 2004. Historic Firestone Stadium is home to the Racers and numerous amateur events at all levels of play. The Racers kick-off their 14th season of play in 2015.
About National Pro Fastpitch: National Pro Fastpitch is headquartered in Nashville, TN. The league, created to give elite female fast pitch players the opportunity to pursue a professional career in their chosen sport, has operated since 1997 under the names of Women's Pro Fastpitch (WPF) and Women's o Softball League (WPSL). NPF is the official Development Partner of Major League Baseball in the category of women's fast pitch softball since 2002. www.profastpitch.com