The second game of today’s doubleheader featured the Akron Racers (13-13) against the USSSA Pride (14-7). The evening’s game included Rachele Fico’s first home game of the season on Firestone Park Night.
The home run ball and Keliani Rickettes’ pitching proved to be too much for the Racers to overcome as they fell 5-1 to the USSSA Pride. Rachele Fico (1-1) (Louisiana State) started off the game in the first inning with early trouble. Pride’s left fielder Natasha Watley kicked the game off with a single to center. Watley stole second and designated hitter Kelly Kretschman walked. Fico would then proceed to strike out center fielder Megan Wiggins, and second baseman Shelby Pendley flied out to right to end the inning.
Keliani Rickettes (3-1) started at pitcher for the Pride and managed to work through the Racers batting order by attacking the strike zone and only giving up two hits for the entire game. In the top of the third inning, it was all about third baseman Kelley Montalvo (Alabama) making a key play, as she has all season long. She has been a defensive lockdown at the hot corner for the Racers. The catch was in foul territory as she toppled over the third base dugout fence to get Watley out. Fico would then work out of the third with no runs allowed. The Pride’s offense came alive and they started to manufacture runs and countless hits throughout the rest of the game. Pendley drove a ball over the right field fence to put the Pride on the board, 1-0. It was Pendley’s second home run of the entire day and third on the season. “It’s always great playing at home. We have great fan support,” said Fico, who was a softball coach at Louisiana State before rejoining the Racers. “My goal is to work on some things to improve and give a better performance for our fans next time.” The home run ball also hurt the Racers. Pride’s power hitter Lauren Chamberlain, who was 3 for 4 with 1 RBI, smacked a solo home run over the center field fence to add to Fico’s rough night in the circle. Madison Shipman would then speed over to first for an infield single. Catcher Megan Jo Willis put down a sacrifice bunt, advancing Shipman to second. Fico limited damage with Watley’s ground out to shortstop to end the inning.
Racers manager Brian Levin said he thought the momentum the team had offensively in the first game would carry over. “The loss is frustrating,” said Levin. “But when you look at the way Rickettes was throwing, when we were trying to put the ball in play, we were swinging and missing.” Levin said “sometimes you just have to tip your hat and say good job and come out tomorrow ready to play. When you can hold our offense to two hits, you’ve done a pretty good job.”
The Racers were up at the plate in the fourth inning and the bats couldn’t get the spark they had in game one, in which they had 12 hits total. Catcher Haley Outon (Houston) started the inning off by getting on first from a hit by pitch. It was Rickettes’ third hit batter of the game. Briana Hamilton (Florida State) and Montalvo both struck out to close the inning. In the fifth, Hamilton would make a costly error as Kelly Kretschman’s big night continued. A slow tapper to first resulted in a double for Kretschman, who would then advance to third on a Megan Wiggins pop out. Pride’s Bridgette Del Ponte grounded out to shortstop, resulting in Kretschman scoring the third run of the game for the Pride. Pendley, who was 2 for 3 on the night with a home run, had a huge night offensively as well. To continue in the fifth, she singled to right center field. Fico was able to get Chelsea Goodacre to pop out to end the fifth. The Pride led 3-0. The Pride’s hot bats continued into the sixth. Chamberlain singled to center, as pinch runner Breja’e Washington took her place at first base. Shipman lined out to Barrett. That brought pinch hitter Amber Freeman to the plate. Freeman doubled to left field, scoring Washington. Watley (2 for 4) launched a triple to right field to score catcher Megan Jo Willis, who pinch ran for Freeman. This pushed the score to 5-0.
Racers’ pitcher Aimee Creger (Tulsa) came on for Fico in the top of the sixth. She allowed no runs, shutting down the Pride. Shellie Robinson (USC-Upstate) sparked the Racers offense in the bottom of the seventh as she pummeled a solo home run to right field. This was Rickettes’ first run of the game given up, as she shut down the Racers offense for most of the game. The Racers will take on the Pride tomorrow night at 7:05 p.m. to close the four-game series.
Location: Firestone Stadium 1575 Firestone Parkway Akron, Ohio 44301
Final Score: USSSA Pride:5 Akron Racers:1 Records: USSSA Pride: (14-7) Akron Racers: (13-13)
Next Racers Game: Thursday, July 9th 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