(Courtesy of Chicago Bandits)
ROSEMONT, Ill. – As Stacy May-Johnson walked off the field after a 9-4 victory, the first one to greet her, with a huge smile, was none other than her daughter, Corrie.
“I didn’t know if she’d be here, or if she’d be at home in bed, but here she is,” May-Johnson said.
As Johnson spoke with the media after the game, teammate Emily Allard came up to Corrie with an even bigger smile.
“Did you see your mommy win?” Allard said with a smile as Corrie giggles.
“It was a special thing, but the girls made it really special and really fun,” May-Johnson added.
It all started in the bottom of the first, with two outs on a 2-0 count, when Natalie Hernandez saw a pitch she liked and took a swing. Her single to center made way for designated player Emily Allard to score the Bandits’ first run of the game after she reached with a base hit of her own.
The Racers responded to Hernandez’s RBI single in the first with an edge. It only took one turn through the lineup for the Racers’ leadoff batter, Taylor Schlopy, to crush a ball over the left field fence, scoring two after Griffin Joiner reached first with a single.
After Allard struck out to start the fifth inning, she reached base on a pitch with the same adjective to the rally that erupted as of a result, “wild.”
“I feel like the softball gods were on my side [there],” Allard said. “A change-up turned into a dropped third strike. I think that was the universe trying to tell us something. I can’t complain. It was awesome.”
Hernandez later added her second base hit and RBI of the game, allowing the tying run to score after Akron had pulled ahead.
The following at bat, Stacy May-Johnson, who came out of retirement for a second time to join the Bandits for the 2017 season, saw her first regular season at-bat since 2011 as a pinch-hitter. Facing a 1-0 count, May-Johnson hit a hard fly ball to right, which quickly dropped to send Allard home and Carosone to second.
“It’s unbelievable,” May-Johnson said. “When you take five years off, you are not trying to do anything fancy up there, you are just trying to get a good pitch to hit. Get the bat on the ball, and see what happens, and fortunately I was able do that, the ball dropped, and we got the lead.”
After the Bandits scored six runs from three straight scoring plays, Allard then was brought to the plate for the second time in the inning, this time driving in final run to seal an explosive eight-run inning.
Following the rally, Shelby Turnier relieved Bandits starter Haylie Wagner (W, 2-0) in the top of the sixth. Wagner left after tossing five innings while surrendering six hits and two runs. In the top of the seventh inning, Jennifer Gilbert delivered her second big hit in as many nights with a two-run home run that scored Ashley Thomas, before Turnier struck out the final batter of the game, Akron’s Sam Fischer, to seal the 9-4 win.
The Bandits are off to a 2-0 start, marking their third consecutive season with a pair of wins to kick off the campaign. The finale of the three-game set against the Racers is scheduled for Saturday night at 7:35 p.m. CT, 8:35 p.m. ET and the game will be broadcast 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. The Racers will celebrate their 16th season of play in 2017. 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 NPF affiliate teams consist of the Akron Racers, Beijing Shougang Eagles, 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.