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AKRON, OH – Softball season never stops at Firestone Stadium, even as the snow flew this winter, the Akron Racers Foundation has been extremely busy planning and executing on just how to take an already great experience the best ever in 2017.  That doesn’t just mean for the professional softball players of the Akron Racers and their fans, but also for youth, high school and collegiate softball players that spend many hours utilizing the world class facilities at Firestone Stadium.  A brand-new playing surface, drainage system, warning track and permanent fence are just some of the many upgrades that have been made this winter.
High school softball players from across the state (and even some neighboring states) will be the first to get to experience our new “Field of Dreams” as they take center stage in April.  All totaled schools will participate in 42 games on the Firestone Stadium diamond and 122 total games in five different tournaments organized by the Akron Racers Foundation.
When planning the spring schedule, there didn’t seem to be a better place to start than right here at home in Akron.  That’s why the schools who will have the honor of christening our new “Field of Dreams” will be the Ellet Orangemen and the Springfield Spartans.  The rival schools will meet on Friday, April 7 at 4:30 p.m. at Firestone Stadium to kick off the Ohio Invitational Tournament, April 7-9.  
Ellet has the distinction of being the first, and so far, only, public school from inside Akron’s city limits to win an OHSAA State Championship in softball.  The Spartans, from nearby Springfield Township, have won a state record nine state titles.
Springfield won the very first OHSAA State Championship in softball back in 1978.  It would be a decade before the Spartans would make it back to the state championship, when sophomore pitcher, and future Racer, Carla Brookbank led the team to its second state championship in 1988.  Springfield would win the state championship the next two seasons as well.  After losing in the state championship game in 1991, the Spartans would run off four straight state championships from 1992-95.  The four straight titles and eight consecutive trips to the championship game stand as state records.  North Canton Hoover tied the four-consecutive title streak from 2011-14.
In 1996, the Orangemen were the ones to take the crown from Springfield, after Ellet had lost to the Spartans in the title game in 1995.  Ellet returned to the state championship semifinals in 1997 for their last appearance.  After their run in the 90’s, Springfield would win their last state championship in softball in 2005.
Schools from Ohio, Michigan and New York will meet in the 19-team Ohio Invitational from Friday, April 7 through Sunday, April 9.  The following weekend the Racers will host both the JV Jamboree and Spring Showcase from Thursday, April 13 through Saturday, April 15.  From Friday, April 21 through Sunday, April 23 Firestone Stadium will be home to the Rock N’ Fire Tournament, and the Grand Slam will wrap up a busy April of high school tournaments from Thursday, April 27 through Saturday, April 29.
The Akron Racers Foundation’s high school tournaments are open to the public.  For ticket information contact the Stadium Box Office at 330-376-8188 for more information.
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 will celebrate their 16th season of play in 2017.  The Akron 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 NPF affiliate teams consist of the Akron Racers, Chicago Bandits, Scrap Yard Dawgs, Texas Charge and USSSA Florida Pride for the 2017 season. National Pro Fastpitch players hail from the United States, Australia, and Canada, among which are the most accomplished and talented athletes in the sport of women’s softball.

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