VIERA, FL – Facing a significant deficit against the reigning three-time NPF regular season champions, the Akron Racers (2-2) did something they haven’t done in nearly two years, they came back to defeat the USSSA Pride 6-4 on Thursday night in the Pride’s (0-1) season opener.
Down 4-0 after three innings and being held hitless the first time through the lineup, Akron’s bats began to wake up in the fourth inning. Centerfielder Taylor Schlopy began the top of the fourth inning with a double down the left field line and shortstop Ashley Thomas followed with a base hit to put runners on the corners with no outs. Two batters later second baseman Alex Hugo brought home Schlopy with a sacrifice fly to centerfield to cut the score to 4-1 in favor of the Pride.
Two innings later the Racers broke through, thanks again to Hugo. After Schlopy drew a one-out walk, Thomas doubled into the left-center field gap to put runners on second and third base. Reigning NPF Rookie of the Year Sami Fagan, making her 2017 debut pounded a single through the infield to score Schlopy. Hugo followed by blasting a 1-0 offering Pride starter Jolene Henderson over the wall in centerfield to put Akron on top 5-4. Schlopy would add an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning with her own home run to left field to make the score 6-4.
Making the comeback possible was the excellent pitching by veteran Rachele Fico. Fico entered the game to start the bottom of the fourth inning with her team down 4-1 and retired the first eight batters she faced. The only trouble Fico faced came in the bottom of the sixth frame when with two outs she walked the Pride’s Kirsti Merritt and surrendered a single to Megan Wiggins. After Wiggins stole second base, the Pride had runners on second and third and last year’s NPF triple crown winner Kelly Kretschman at the plate, Fico struck out Kretschman on a full count to end the inning.
Hugo ended the game 1-for-2 with four RBI and one run scored, while Schlopy went 2-for-3 with a double, home run, three runs and one RBI. Thomas wen 2-for-4 with one run scored.
The Racers and Pride will continue the three-game series Friday night at USSSA Space Coast Stadium in Viera, Florida with first pitch coming at 7:05 p.m. the game is available for streaming on NPF TV.
(Photo Credit: Chicago Bandits, National Pro Fastpitch)
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
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, 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, Canada and China among which are the most accomplished and talented athletes in the sport of women’s softball.