As we approach the midpoint to the 2015 season, and the Fourth of July weekend festivities come to an end, the Racers managed to produce some fireworks of their own over their long six game road trip.
The Racers piled up 34 runs on the road against the expansion team, the Dallas Charge. They are smashing the ball out of the park too. The Racers currently lead the NPF by a landslide in the home run department by hitting 29 of them so far this season. Left fielder Jennifer Gilbert, second baseman Ashley Thomas, and the return of 2014 All-NPF Team Selection, Rachele Fico, carried the Racers’ offense and pitching during the long road stretch of six games against the Charge, who are led by offensive leaders Angie Quiocho and Kaylyn Castillo, and stellar starting pitching from Jolene Henderson, Vanessa Stokes, and Lauren Haeger. Haeger leads the team with 30 strikeouts.
Gilbert, who is tied for 2nd on the team with 4 home runs, led the Racers off to a great start on the trip with one of the best performances of the season. She faced Henderson for the first time ever and clubbed two home runs off of her. The first home run came in the 4th inning when Gilbert smashed a ball to left field that carried over the breakaway fence. She trucked around the bases for an inside-the-park home run. Then, in the sixth inning, followed by a triple from center fielder Taylor Schlopy, she hit another shot to right field, making the score 3-1. The final score was 3-2, a Racers victory.
Sarah Pauly, who carries a 1.90 ERA, good for 7th in the NPF, came through huge for the Racers in this game, as she has all season long with commanding the strike zone and managing the game as one of the best pitchers in the NPF. In her first game of two that she pitched in, she only gave up one home run in the bottom of the seventh inning.
On July 2nd, the game was all about the Racers offense and Akron’s Rachele Fico, who was pitching for the Racers for this first time this season. Fico helped control the game while the offense took care of business as the Racers crushed the Charge, 9-1.
Fico went the distance by pitching a complete game with four strikeouts and only giving up one earned run against the Charge at Christopher Park in Westminster, CO. Fico was the ace for the Racers’ pitching staff last season when the Racers finished an even .500 at 24-24. She was tied with Racers pitcher Hannah Campbell in games pitched (23) and earned an 11-7 record with 2 saves.
The Racers offense backed Fico up by providing a much needed spark. It was a full team effort as the home run ball came alive. Infielder Briana Hamilton, recently picked up by the Racers on a 2-week deal, smashed a homer in the first inning over the left field fence to put the Racers up 1-0.
From there on, the team never looked back from that opening homer by Hamilton. In the third inning, the Racers extended their lead. Right fielder Ayumi Karino reached base on a hard shot to second that was bobbled. Shortstop Jill Barrett vaulted her first home run of the season in the third making the score 3-0.
The Racers piled on the runs as they would score four in the fifth inning. Karino started the inning by hitting a single up the middle. Barrett came up and smacked another single to right, moving Karino to third. Then, designated player Nerissa Myers came up to the plate and lined a three run home run to straight-away center field, pushing the Racers’ advantage to 6-0. The brutal inning for the Charge was not over yet. Gilbert would produce again for the Racers with a double to left center. Third baseman Kelley Montalvo came up to the plate, reached first base on an errand throw from Dallas shortstop Renada Davis, allowing Gilbert to plate the Racers’ seventh run, pushing the score to 7-0 Racers. In the sixth inning, it was second baseman Ashley Thomas that smacked a hard hit double down the left field line. That brought up the hot-hitting Karino, who singled and advanced to second base on a Charge error. Thomas scored to make it 8-0. Jill Barrett, sporting a .338 batting avg. (3rd on the team), managed to single to bring Karino home, closing out the Racers offensive burst at nine.
In the third game, it was all about the Charges’ Lauren Haeger and Taylor Thom, as they both hit home runs in the game. After a long rain delay halted play, Sarah Pauly took the mound for the Racers, but struggled. Fatigue seemed to be present as she has already pitched in 55 innings this season. She allowed eight hits on eight earned runs, but still struck out four. The Racers bats hung tough by center fielder Taylor Schlopy blasting a two run shot in the third, pulling the Racers in front, 4-3. The team had won 7 of their past 8 games, but could not hang on as the Charge won 8-5, ending their six game losing streak.
When friends and families were sharing good times together on the fourth of July, the Racers were celebrating in a different way. They were playing the Dallas Charge for the fifth straight time. The Racers have the 3nd best batting avg. in the NPF (.261) and it showed in this game. The team was a total 11 for 34 (.323) as nine players managed to get a hit and accumulated 5 RBIs in the process. The Racers beat the Charge 7-1.
The game started off from Myers reaching first, Gilbert would reach first on a walk, catcher Haley Outon reached on a fielder’s choice, but a costly error from Dallas’ Renada Davis allowed two unearned runs to score for the Racers. In the second inning, the Racers would extend the lead. Myers walked, and then Barrett smashed a 2-out single into left field. Then, Jen Gilbert would drill an RBI single to right, scoring one, putting the score up to 3-0 Racers. Akron would get timely hits in the third from center fielder Cassie Tysarczyk, as she smoked a double to center. That allowed Ashley Thomas to follow with 2-RBI single, bringing the Racers lead to 5-1.
In the fourth, the home run ball came back as catcher Haley Outon, who has 4 home runs on the year, including a game-winning grand slam earlier this summer, lifted a 2-run home run over left centerfield to seal the Racers 7-1 victory.
In the final game of the six game road trip, Dallas’ Angeline Quicho had a superior offensive performance and the Racers just couldn’t quite stop her. She went 3 for 3 and drove in 5 runs with a homerun and a double. The Charge were sizzling hot the entire game on offense and pitching, as they scored 11 runs, beating the Racers, 11-5. Dallas pitcher Vanessa Stokes sealed the win by striking out six and allowing four earned runs.
In the 4th inning, Racers’ Ashley Thomas kept her hot streak alive at the plate as she marked her homecoming to McKinney, Texas by smashing a three run home run to keep the game close for the Racers. The fifth inning involved a Jill Barrett walk and a Nerissa Myers single to advance Barrett to third. Outon rolled a ball up the middle to plate Barrett, making the score 9-4. But the Charge was too much handle. A couple of costly errors that hurt the Racers to begin the 2015 season came back to haunt them. In the 5th inning, Barrett and Thomas both received an error. Thomas’s error allowed the Charge to score their 10th run of the game. But the Racers were not done yet. Myers hit a solo home run. Jen Gilbert was hit by a pitch, but the Racers were 2-18 with runners on base and couldn’t score when needed.
The Racers, winners of their last nine out of 11 games, will head home to Firestone Stadium to play the USSSA Pride in a four game series this week, with a double-header tomorrow. First game starts at 11:05 A.M. The second game starts at 7:05 P.M.
Location – Firestone Stadium
1575 Firestone Pkwy
Akron, OH 44301
Records – Akron Racers 12-11, USSSA Pride 12-6
Next Racers Game – Tuesday, July 7th @ 11:05 a.m.
For more information about the Akron Racers visit www.akronracers.org or call 330-376-8188
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 Pro 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