AKRON, OH – There is no denying the profound influence of the Akron Racers ninth IMPACT honoree, pitcher Radara McHugh. As the third pitcher to enter the epic battle against Jennie Finch and the Chicago Bandits, McHugh exhibited her tough, no-nonsense approach to her craft to earn Akron its first and only title to date in 2005. The Racers kick-off their 15th Season of Play at Firestone Stadium on June 8th.
“I wish every fan of the game could have seen the resiliency and the mental toughness Radara maintained in the circle. Her approach to the game and every pitch was a nightly lesson,” recalled GM Joey Arrietta. “I knew every time she entered the game, she would give us a chance to win.”
Long-time Akron fans will have the performance by McHugh and the Racers in Chicago etched in their minds forever. With Akron already down 4-0 to the Chicago Bandits, McHugh came in with bases loaded and one out in the bottom of the fourth inning. McHugh struck out Team USA member Jaime Clark and then got Finch to fly out to centerfield to end the threat. That was just a prelude of things to come as McHugh was dominant in 4.2 shutout innings, allowing just two hits and two walks while striking out seven.
While McHugh was putting up zeroes against Chicago’s offense, the Racers offense was starting to break through, rallying all the way back when Nicole Trimboli drove in Jackie Poggendorf to tie the game in the top of the seventh. McHugh ended the Bandits hopes in the bottom of the seventh by getting Megan Ciolli to ground out. After Iyhia McMichael’s home run put the Racers in front in the top of the eighth inning, McHugh silenced Chicago in the bottom half by striking out Anne Steffan and Laura Harms for the final two outs to bring the Racers first Cowles Cup Championship to Akron.
McHugh in 2005 was excellent as primarily a reliever, finishing second in the NPF with four saves. In 18 appearances, McHugh pitched 75 innings, earning a 0.84 ERA and she made seven starts and turning four of them into complete games.
The 2005 Championship was certainly an apex for everyone involved with the organization, but for McHugh it would be far from the only highlight. Throughout her remarkable five-year career with the Racers, McHugh threw 476.1 innings, making 56 starts and striking out 347 hitters, while throwing 38 complete games and earned 44 victories. All five of those statistics would stand as franchise records on the day McHugh retired. However, all of those marks have since been passed by Lisa Norris. McHugh also compiled a 1.97 ERA, currently placing her eighth on the Racer all-time list.
After the championship season of 2005, McHugh transitioned to a starter’s role in 2006. She tied teammate Brandee McArthur for third place in the NPF with 19 starts that year and threw 135.1 innings to McArthur’s 136.0, throwing a team-high 14 complete games, which was second most in the NPF. McHugh, an ALL-NPF selection, also posted a 1.24 ERA to lead the Racers.
McHugh pitched from 2004-2008 for the Racers and then became the first player in franchise history to be named a coach for Akron after her career was over in the 2009 season. McHugh’s impact on the Racers franchise is something that will always be remembered and she will go down as one of the greatest player to ever take the circle for the team.
McHugh and the other 29 IMPACT honorees will be recognized this summer, culminating in a weekend-long celebration July 15-17 when the Racers welcome the Dallas Charge to Firestone Stadium for a three-game series. The Racers will welcome back many of their former players to celebrate the history of the franchise, culminating in the pre-game presentation of the 30 IMPACT honorees on July 16th. Each honoree will receive a special commemorative jersey bearing their name and number.
2016 Akron Racers IMPACT Honorees (to date)
1. Carla Brookbank Schaal 9. Radara McHugh
2. Crystl Bustos
3. Amy Kyler
4. Sarah Dawson
5. Nicole Odom Reis
6. Tobin Echo-Hawk
7. Kellyn Tate
8. Kristin Johnson
About the Akron Racers: The Akron Racers, headquartered in Akron, OH, are the oldest existing team in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) league, celebrating their 15th season of play in 2016. 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.
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.