AKRON, Ohio -- USSSA Pride shortstop Madison Shipman's late game heroics sunk the Akron Racers in the finale of the four game series Thursday night. Shipman drove in four RBI in her final two at bats to lead the Pride (15-7) to a 6-4 victory in eight innings over the host Racers.
Shipman changed the game in the top of the seventh inning with a two-run home run to left field that scored pinch runner Courtney Ceo to tie the game 4-4. After the Racers (13-14) were quietly set down by Pride closing pitcher Jordan Taylor in the bottom of the seventh inning the table was set for Shipman again in the top of the eighth inning. With pinch hitter Amanda Kamekona and pinch runner Breja'e Washington on second and third base, respectively, Shipman blasted a line drive over Racer left fielder Sonoka Kuniyoshi for a two-run double to put USSSA on top 6-4.
Akron made some noise in the bottom of the eighth inning and almost tied the game again. With two outs and right fielder Ayumi Karino on first base, Briana Hamilton stepped to the plate and drove a deep flyball to rightfield that Pride right fielder Kelly Kretschman caught just in front of the fence, just short of a two-run home run.
"I hope our players take that we can play with anyone," Racers manager Brian Levin said. "I think the Pride are the ones that need to take away that when you play Akron you are in for a dogfight."
Racer starting pitcher Lisa Norris took the loss, working 7.1 innings, allowing six earned runs on nine hits, with five walks and three strikeouts. Coming into the seventh inning Norris had retired nine of the last 11 hitters she faced, allowing just two runs.
"I talked with (Norris), she said she was good to go and I think still had some pretty good stuff," Levin said about Norris. "I think the problem she ran into was falling behind some hitters and getting into some hitters counts."
The ending highlighted what was a back and forth battle all night, with three lead changes and two ties throughout the night.
Kretschman opened the game with a home run to give the Pride a 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
Akron answered back in the bottom of the fifth inning when Hamilton blasted a solo home run to tie the game 1-1 with one out. Three batters later, Racers designated player Nerissa Myers smashed a two-run home run to centerfield that also brought home shortstop Jill Barrett.
USSSA and Akron would trade runs in the sixth inning to keep the Racers ahead 4-2 entering the seventh inning.
Akron Racers’ General Manager Joey Arrietta opened the game with a dedication to Cat Osterman, the two time Olympic medalist and eight season NPF veteran, who played her final game at Firestone Stadium tonight before her retirement that will follow this season.
The Racers will take the next week off before returning to Firestone Stadium Friday July 17 against the Dallas Charge. It will be the Charge's first trip to Akron as a member of the NPF.
The Pride head to Pennsylvania to take on the Rebellion Friday night.
Location: Firestone Stadium 1575 Firestone Parkway Akron, Ohio 44301
Final Score: USSSA Pride: 6 Akron Racers: 4 Records: USSSA Pride: (15-7) Akron Racers: (13-14)
Next Racers Game: Friday, July 17 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