AKRON, OH – The Akron Racers were challenged by a brilliant pitching performance from pitcher Angel Bunner and a strong display of offense from the USSSA Pride (27-8), who defeated the Racers (19-20) 9-1 on Wednesday night at Firestone Stadium. The first place Pride have taken the first two games of the four-game series.
Bunner worked a clean game, keeping Akron off the bases paths and holding a perfect game going into the bottom of the seventh inning.
“Well, I think Bunner was on. She does a good job of attacking the strike zone,” Racers Field Manager Charlotte Morgan said. “I thought she did a great job controlling the ball.”
Bunner (5-1) had struck out three hitters going into the seventh inning when Racer centerfielder A.J. Andrews led off with a line drive single into shallow centerfield to mark Akron’s first baserunner of the game. Pinch hitter Maddy Grimm followed Andrews by working a walk, before second baseman Sami Fagan picked up the second hit of the inning with a shot into leftfield. Andrews raced around third and tried to beat the throw from leftfielder Kirsti Merritt, but was called out on the play at home plate for the first out. The Pride turned to reliever Jessica Burroughs out of the bullpen following Fagan’s hit, and Shellie Robinson reached on a fielder’s choice that brought pinch runner Kristen Wyckoff home to break-up the Pride’s shutout attempt and make the score 9-1.
After a scoreless first inning, the Pride made the first mark on the scoreboard with two runs in the second inning. After shortstop Shelby Pendley drew a walk, right fielder Hallie Wilson followed with a line drive single to left field and made it to second on a play attempting to get Pendley, who came up safe at third. A single from third baseman Andrea Duran out to left field scored both Pendley and Wilson to give the Pride a 2-0 lead over Akron.
In the third inning, the Pride kept their bats rolling to increase their lead by three more runs.
Pendley drove home second baseman Sierra Romero with a ground ball up the middle. Later in the inning, first baseman GiOnna DiSalvatore smacked a pitch to left field, plating Lauren Chamberlain and Pendley to advance the score to an early 5-0 lead for the Pride. To end the inning, Akron turned to Emily Weiman in the circle to relieve Sara Groenewegen, who allowed six hits and five runs in two and half innings.
The Pride continued their offensive attack in the top of the fifth inning. Three consecutive base hits by Wilson, DiSalvatore and Duran helped the visitors add two more runs. DiSalvatore’s hit scored Chamberlain and Duran drove home Wilson to make the score 7-0.
The Pride added a run in each the sixth and seventh innings. In the sixth inning, Wilson’s fourth hit of the game brought home Mo Mercado to make the score 8-0. Mandie Perez capped the Pride’s night with a sacrifice fly with the bases loaded that scored Merritt.
“Overall, I didn’t like the way we came out, I didn’t like our energy,” Morgan said “I’m a little tired of saying that, and I hope they are tired of me saying it.
“We’ve just got to learn from tonight, we’ve got two games that are huge tomorrow, so we’ve got to come out and get back to work.”
DiSalvatore and Duran led the Pride with three RBI, a piece.
The Racers return tomorrow for the last two games of the series in a doubleheader against the Pride. The first game is scheduled to being at 12:05 p.m. and the second at 7:05 p.m. For more information or to purchase tickets, contact the Racers ticket office at (330) 376-8188.
Game Time: 2:03
Vaultz Lock It Up Player of the Game: Angel Bunner
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.