AKRON, OH--July 7
In game one of the July 7th doubleheader, the USSSA Pride (13-6) took the field against the Akron Racers (12-12) as the home team to accommodate the league schedule.
Pride pitcher Cat Osterman (6-2) took the mound for what could have been the last time at Firestone Stadium. “Cat is going to come out early and she always places her pitches really well,“ said Coach Brian Levin. “I don’t think they really came out to play. They had some errors in the beginning and we didn’t take advantage of getting runners home.”
In the top of the first, Jill Barrett (Tulsa) led the inning by successfully reaching first base on a drop third strike and an overthrow by catcher Megan Willis. Nerissa Myers (Louisiana Lafayette) grounded out to first base for the first out of the inning. Taylor Schlopy (Georgia) reached first on an error from Pride’s third basemen Courtney Leo and moved Barrett to second. Clean up hitter, Haley Outon (Houston) smashed a line drive to left field to bring home Barrett and to move Schlopy to third. Jen Gilbert (Ball State) and Briana Hamilton (Florida State) popped out to end the inning.
Hannah Campbell (0-1, South Alabama) stepped into the pitching circle for the Racers in the bottom of the first inning. Pride lead off batter Natasha Watley started the inning with a base hit to second base. Kelley Montalvo (Alabama) caught a pop fly hit by Kelly Kretschman followed by a foul ball hit by Megan Wiggins for the first two outs. GiOnna DiSalvatore hit a fly ball to Jen Gilbert in left field for the third out.
The Pride fought back with strong defense in the top of the second inning. Osterman fielded a powerful grounder by Montalvo for the first out. Madison Shipman caught a pop fly by Ashley Thomas (Georgia Tech) and Ayumi Karino (Japan) struck out to end the inning.
The Racers worked together in the bottom of the second to hold the Pride from advancing home. Campbell struck out Lauren Chamberlain for the first out of the inning. Shelby Pendley smacked a hard hit grounder past Thomas to reach first base and Madison Shipman blasted a double to left field to bring Pendley to third. Megan Willis reached first base on a fielder’s choice and Pendley was caught in a run down at third base. Outon hustled down the third base line to tag out Pendley, which prevented her from advancing home. Courtney Ceo fielded out to Gilbert in left field to end the inning.
In the top of the third, Barrett blew one past the Pride’s second basemen Pendley and advanced to second on a passed ball. Myers advanced to first base after being pelted by a pitch from Osterman. Schlopy grounded out to second base, Myers advanced to second base and Barrett advanced to third. Outon and Gilbert consecutively stuck out and the score remained 1-0 to end the second inning.
In the bottom of the third, Watley reached first base with a slap to Barrett. Kretschman grounded out to Outon for the first out. Wiggins reached first on an error by Thomas and Watley advanced to second. DiSalvatore then hit a grounder to Thomas at second base. Thomas fielded the grounder, tagged out Wiggins as she advanced to second and threw out DiSalvatore at first base for an impressive double play.
The fourth inning began with Hamilton drawing a walk. Osterman held Hamilton at first and tossed three consecutive strikeouts to end the inning.
The Racers’ defense struggled in the bottom of the fourth inning. Chamberlain initiated the Pride’s momentum with a base hit to right center. Breja’e Washington replaced Chamberlain at first base as a pinch runner. Pendley stepped up to the plate, ripped a single to right field and advanced to second on Karino’s throw to third. Shipman hit an RBI to advance Pendley to third and Washington home to tie the game. Shipman then stole second base and Brigette Del Ponte struck out at the plate. Ceo kept the Pride’s sprits high with an RBI groundout that moved Shipman to third and Pendley home. Watley then reached first base on a walk by Campbell. Barrett fielded a hit by Kretschman at shortstop to get the Racers out of the inning.
In the top of the fifth inning, Barrett reached first with a walk. Myers flied out to Watley in left field for the first out followed by Schlopy who popped out to Pendley at second base. Osterman then walked Outon, which allowed Barrett to advance to second base. Gilbert popped out to Shipman at shortstop and Outon and Barrett were left on base.
The Pride continued their success at the plate in the bottom of the fifth inning. Wiggins laid down a bunt toward the third base line and successfully reached first. DiSalvatore was safe at first on a fielder’s choice and Wiggins was tagged out by Barrett at second base. Chamberlain flied out to left field and DiSalvatore advanced to second on a wild pitch by Campbell. Pendley hammered an RBI double to left field and DiSalvatore scored for the Pride. Campbell struck out Shipman to end the inning.
The Racers struggled offensively in the top of the sixth inning. Hamilton poked one to third base and reached first on an error by Ceo. Montalvo then struck out and Garcia grounded out to Ceo at third base. Shellie Robinson was able to smack a single to shortstop and move Hamilton to third. Unfortunately, Barrett struck out and runners were left on base.
Briana Hamilton was picked by the Racers on a two-week deal after being released from the Pennsylvania Rebellion. Coach Levin said that Hamilton is just ready to play ball and comes in prepared every day, especially on defense.
“She’s a really fun kid,” said Coach Levin. “Very exciting player. Her and Montalvo on the corners complement each other. They are always talking.”
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Chelsea Goodacre busted a double to left center and Ceo executed a sacrifice bunt to advance Goodacre to third base. Watley grounded out to Campbell for the second out. Kretschman sliced an RBI single to left field that allowed Goodacre to bring in another run for the Pride. Hamilton fielded a grounded to first by Wiggins to complete the sixth inning.
Pride pitcher Jordan Taylor replaced Osterman on the mound in the top of the seventh inning. Myers led at the plate and hit a blast to right field. However, the Racers came up short and could not manage to bring Myers home. Schlopy popped out to centerfield, followed by Outon who flied out to second base and Gilbert who grounded out to second base.
Cat Osterman earned the win on the mound and Jordan Taylor earned the save for the USSSA Pride. Hannah Campbell takes the loss for the Akron Racers.
Coach Levin also added that there were plays that should have been made by Racers that did not count as errors.
“I feel that those had an impact on the game. I think really the result of the game was not executing at the plate when we needed to.”
Location: Firestone Stadium
1575 Firestone Parkway
Akron, Ohio 44301
Final Score: USSSA Pride: 4 Akron Racers: 1
Records: USSSA Pride: (13-6) Akron Racers: (12-12)
Next Racers Game: Tuesday, July 7th 7:05pm
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 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