VIERA, FL – The Akron Racers closed out their three-day trip to USSSA Space Coast Stadium in Florida by splitting a doubleheader on Sunday. The Racers (17-15) defeated the Beijing Shougang Eagles 2-1 in the first game, before falling to the USSSA Pride 4-3 in the nightcap of the doubleheader.
In the first game of the doubleheader, the Racers rode the left arm of pitcher Jailyn Ford and came through with some clutch hits and capitalized on key defensive mistakes by the Eagles (1-25) to come from behind to secure the win.
Ford threw a complete game, scattering six Eagles hits while only walking one batter. Ford recorded six strikeouts and her fourth victory of the season, while only allowing one unearned run in the game.
Akron on offense found themselves trailing 1-0 late into the game, until left fielder Kristen Wyckoff sparked a two-out rally in the top of the fifth inning. Wyckoff bounced a ball on the right side of the infield and cruised into first base for an infield single. After Wyckoff stole second base, Ashley Thomas lifted a fly ball into shallow left field, but Beijing left fielder Liu Yi Ning dropped the ball, allowing Wyckoff to easily glide into home plate to tie the game 1-1.
In the sixth inning, Sami Fagan led off with a base hit for the Racers, and Chandler Rice pinch ran for Fagan. Later in the inning, first baseman Nicole Schroeder laced a single down the right field line that should have put runners on the corners, but a throwing error by Eagle first baseman Xu Jia allowed Rice to score the deciding run and secure the 2-1 victory.
Beijing got off to a fast start, taking a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Leadoff hitter Liu Li Li reached on an error by shortstop Sami Fagan. Two batters later, Xi Kai Lin drove a base hit through the middle of the infield for a two-out RBI single.
In the second game, Akron battled until the end, even putting the tying run in scoring position in the final inning, before ultimately coming up just short against the first place Pride. Trailing 4-3 in the top of the seventh inning, pinch hitter Maddy Grimm beat out a groundball between first and second base for a one-out single. Wyckoff advanced Grimm to second base with a sacrifice bunt, before Pride closer Jordan Taylor recorded her eighth save of the season by striking out Thomas to end the game.
The Pride did most of their damage in the home half of the first inning. Centerfielder Megan Wiggins and right fielder Kelly Kretschman jumpstarted the frame with an infield hit and a walk, respectively. Sierra Romero advanced both runners on a groundout to Thomas. Catcher Chelsea Goodacre brought Wiggins home with her own groundout to Thomas for the second out. First baseman Hallie Wilson followed with a groundout to Akron third baseman Kelley Montalvo, whose throw to first base went wide to extend the inning and score Kretschman. Wilson raced all the way to third base on the play and then scored on a wild pitch to put the Pride ahead 3-0.
The Racers answered in the third inning. Thomas plated Montalvo, who walked to lead off the inning, with a base hit through the left side of the infield. Centerfielder A.J. Andrews followed Thomas with an RBI double that scored Wyckoff. That cut the score to 3-2, but Akron stranded runners on second and third base to end the inning.
The Pride stretched their lead in the bottom half of the third inning with Lauren Chamberlain delivering a run scoring single that brought home Kretschman to add to the lead at 4-2.
Sam Fischer-Cooke drew Akron back within a run when she blasted a home run over the right-center field wall in the top of the fourth inning.
The Racers travel to Texas this week for a three-game series against the Texas Charge beginning on Tuesday night at 8:05 p.m. ET. Following the series with the Charge, Akron will take on the Scrap Yard Dawgs for a two-game series on Saturday and Sunday. All games will be streamed on NPF TV. The Racers return to Firestone Stadium on Tuesday, July 25 for the start of a four-game series with the Pride. For ticket information contact the Racers ticket office at 330-376-8188.
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.