AKRON, OH -- The USSSA Pride stormed out to a six-run lead through the first three innings and held on to defeat the Akron Racers by a final score of 7-3 thanks to a three home run night by catcher Chelsea Goodacre (3-for-3, 5 RBI) and four home runs by the Pride overall, which accounted for all seven Pride runs.
A four-run top of the first inning for the Pride (34-13) gave starting pitcher Jolene Henderson a healthy dose of run support even before she and the Pride took the field. Following a base hit by designated player Kelly Kretschman, shortstop Shelby Pendley put the Pride on the scoreboard with a two-run home run to right-center field. Two batters later Goodacre hit her first blast of the night, that also scored right fielder Hallie Wilson and the Pride went ahead 4-0.
“When you are digging yourself that big of a hole, it’s tough to get out of,” Akron Field Manager Brian Levin said. “But like I told them in the huddle, if you eliminate the first inning it’s a tie ball game through six innings, so from that aspect you know we out-hit them, I thought we played good defense, (Aimee) Creger came in and did a tremendous job pitching and one bad inning just cost us.”
In her next at bat in the third inning Goodacre went deep again, this time off of Laura Winter (Notre Dame), which extended the USSSA lead to 6-0 in the third inning. Winter went 1.2 innings, struck out one hitter and gave up the two earned runs.
Creger came on in relief of Winter following the home run and allowed just one run on two hits in five innings of work.
In the bottom of the third inning, the Racers (22-25) found some power of their own from an unlikely source. Right fielder A.J. Andrews (Louisiana State) lasered her second home run of the season over the wall in left field to get the Racers on the board.
"I think I'm just trying to play loose and I'm really feeling myself this year," Andrews said. "Last year it was a new game, new team and new organization. This league is definitely a lot harder because you're playing All-Americans every single day and that's just not something you do in college. I'm just going balls out and being fearless instead of feeling careful."
With one out, third baseman Kelley Montalvo (Alabama) walked and shortstop Sami Fagan (Missouri) singled, which gave the Racers a chance to come through with a big inning. After first baseman Sam Fischer fouled out to first baseman GiOnna DiSalvatore for the second out, Akron left fielder Shellie Robinson (South Carolina-Upstate) came to the plate with two outs and delivered the clutch two-run double, which scored Montalvo and Fagan and cut the deficit to 6-3.
"Our mind set is just to relax, have fun and get back to our game," said Robinson. "We are slowly getting there. I thought tonight was a good game, we just had a couple long balls. But tomorrow we're going to come out and really work."
However, the Racers comeback ended there and the Pride tacked on another run in the seventh inning via yet another home run by Goodacre.
As the year comes to a close, multiple Racers took the time to strengthen their cases for the league’s yearly awards.
Fagan, the Racers standout rookie shortstop, continued her quest for 2016 NPF Rookie of the Year with a three-hit performance that pushed her batting average up to .407.
“I don’t think there is any chance that she isn’t Rookie of the Year,” Levin said of Fagan. “There is no doubt in my mind. Her body of work throughout the entire year has been consistent and she continues to stay up there. It’s been a remarkable season for her, especially coming off of a full college season.”
Montalvo, who occupies the hot corner for the Rubber City, sent in her application for 2016 NPF Defensive Player of the Year as well when she made three tremendous plays to retire all three Pride hitters in the fifth inning.
While they were on the road, the Racers did punch their ticket to the 2016 NPF Playoffs in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and are now vying for playoff positioning for the remainder of the season.
"Everybody here wants a ring and that's what we're fighting for," Andrews said. "We want to go out there and get the gold. We're out here working every single day, getting closer and closer each inning so we're really excited. Securing fourth (place) is awesome."
The Racers have just three games left in their 2016 season all three will come against the USSSA Pride. They will play the Pride at Firestone Stadium on Tuesday and Friday at 7:05 and they will play them at the University of Notre Dame on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m.
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 (NPF)
National Pro Fastpitch (NPF), an Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball since 2002, provides elite female athletes with an opportunity to pursue a professional career in diamond sports beyond their collegiate success. The 2016 NPF season will be televised on CBS Sports Network. Coverage includes the NPF College Draft presented by Bownet on Thur., April 14, followed by 23 regular-season games, a Championship Series Preview Special and the 2016 NPF Championship Series. The NPF recently announced that the Scrap Yard Dawgs, located in The Woodlands, Texas, will join the Akron Racers, Chicago Bandits, Dallas Charge, Pennsylvania Rebellion and USSSA Florida Pride for the 2016 season. National Pro Fastpitch players hail from the U.S., Australia, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands and New Zealand, representing the most accomplished and talented athletes in the sport of women’s softball.
Note to Media
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