AKRON, OH – The Akron Racers welcomed the USSSA Pride to Firestone Stadium for the first time this season on Saturday night, and the two teams engaged in a classic back-and-forth battle. In the end, the Racers (6-8) had a chance to tie the game, but Pride closer Jordan Taylor helped USSSA (10-2) escape with a 3-2 win.
Heading into the bottom of the seventh inning, Akron trailed the Pride 3-1, but Racer leadoff hitter A.J. Andrews sparked a rally, when she was hit by a pitch from Taylor. After Taylor retired the next two hitters, third baseman Kelley Montalvo kept the inning going with a base hit to right field. When Pride second baseman Sierra Romero tried to catch Montalvo leaning too far off first base, the throw skipped away from first baseman Hallie Wilson and Andrews scored all the way from first base. With Montalvo on second base, Taylor managed to strikeout outfielder Shellie Robinson to end the game.
“I think we fought at the end which is always good to see, especially when they bring in their closer. They tried to shut the door, so I thought we did a good job fighting,” Racers Field Manager Charlotte Morgan said. “I didn’t think our bats were that great all night even though we out hit them I still think we could have been a little bit more competitive.”
Robinson ended the game at the plate 2-for-4 with an RBI and was the only Racer with two hits.
Akron starter Sara Groenewegen and Pride starter Jolene Henderson locked into a pitcher’s duel for most of the game as neither team had a hit through two-and-one-half innings.
“I thought Sara threw great. She had two mistakes and you wish you could take those back, but you have got to be able to keep the ball in the park,” Morgan said. “But overall, I thought she threw really well and I thought (Rachele) Fico came in and did a good job, you know she hasn’t seen the game in a few weeks.”
The hitless streak ended in the bottom of the third inning when second baseman Ashley Thomas and designated player Sami Fagan picked up back-to-back hits with one out. One batter later, Robinson plated Thomas to give Akron a 1-0 lead.
The Pride tied the game in the top of the fourth inning on a home run to right-center field. Groenewegen picked up two quick outs in the top of the fifth inning, but left fielder Kirsti Merritt hit a dribbler to Groenewegen’s left that just trickled off the pitcher’s glove for a hit to extend the inning. Centerfielder Megan Wiggins took advantage of the opportunity, smacking a home run over the right field fence to put the Pride ahead 3-1.
The Racers avoided another Pride scoring opportunity in the top of the sixth inning after Romero led off the inning with a base hit. Alex Powers pinch ran for Romero and quickly stole second base. On the play, catcher Shelby Hiers threw the ball into center field, allowing Powers to reach third base. The next batter, Lauren Chamberlain, hit a deep fly ball to Robinson in right field. Robinson caught the ball and threw a rocket home to catch Powers attempting to tag up on the play.
“I think we had a good outing as a team. We out him them,” Robinson said. “We’re just going to continue to work. It’s going to be a good season. It’s still early.”
Akron will host the Beijing Shougang Eagles tomorrow at 4:05 p.m. Following that game the Eagles will face the Pride at 6:35 p.m. at Firestone Stadium. Contact the Racers ticket office at 330-376-8188 for more information and to order tickets.
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 2004, provides elite female athletes with an opportunity to pursue a professional career in fastpitch softball beyond their collegiate and amateur 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, Canada and China among which are the most accomplished and talented athletes in the sport of women’s softball.