TUSCALOOSA, AL – The fourth-seeded Akron Racers lost the first game of the NPF Championship Series Semifinals to the top-seeded USSSA Pride 3-0, in their best-of-three series at the University of Alabama’s Rhoads Stadium on Friday night. The only offense on the night came off the bat of Pride designated player Lauren Chamberlain, who blasted a three-run home run off the scoreboard in left field in the bottom of the first inning.
The Racers had an opportunity to break through in the top of the first inning, when second baseman Ashley Thomas (Georgia Tech) picked up a one-out single to left field. Shortstop Sami Fagan (Missouri) and first baseman Sam Fischer (Loyola-Marymount) followed Thomas by getting hit by pitches from Pride starter Keilani Ricketts to load the bases. Ricketts escaped the jam and kept Akron off the scoreboard by striking out left fielder Shellie Robinson (South Carolina-Upstate) and designated player Alex Hugo (Georgia) to end the inning.
In the bottom half of the inning, Pride right fielder Kelly Kretschman and shortstop Shelby Pendley drew walks before Chamberlain drove them home with her home run. After a single by catcher Chelsea Goodacre, the Racers turned to Rachele Fico (Louisiana State) out of the bullpen to relieve starter Jailyn Ford (James Madison) and Fico silenced the Pride attack, retiring the first eight batters she faced.
Ricketts and Fico held both offenses at bay until Akron had another opportunity in the top of the fifth inning. Right fielder A.J. Andrews (Louisiana State) led off the inning by racing into second base for a double on a looping line drive to short centerfield. Andrews (2 hits) tagged up to reach third base on a fly out by centerfielder Taylor Schlopy (Georgia), but was stranded there after Ricketts forced Thomas and Fagan to ground out to end the inning.
Ricketts retired nine of the last 10 batters she faced to finish the complete game shutout, allowing four hits, while striking out three Racer hitters.
The Racers once again found success turning to their bullpen as Aimee Creger (Tulsa) came on for Fico in the bottom of the fourth inning and Creger threw three perfect innings to finish the game for Akron.
The Racers and Pride will finish their series Saturday, August 20 at Rhoads Stadium. Game 2 will begin at 3:00 p.m. ET and will be televised on CBS Sports Network as Akron tries to extend their season and avoid elimination. With a win in Game 2, the Racers and Pride would meet at 9:00 p.m. ET for the decisive Game 3 Saturday night with the game available online on NPF TV.
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
Photos and b-roll of players is available. Interviews with the league commissioner are welcomed, and top players from each team are accessible immediately. If you’re interested in pursuing story angles about professional softball for women, please don’t hesitate to contact us.