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The returning Akron Racers will be a force to be reckoned with as they begin the march to opening night 2013. Hot off their NPF Championship Series performance, the Racers look to rekindle the fire with a core of returning players led by the 2012 NPF Offensive Player of the Year, Sam Marder, and the 2012 NPF Co-Defensive Player of the Year, Kelley Montalvo. Never, in the history of the league, has one team claimed both honors in the same season.
Akron Racers, Pres/GM, Joey Arrietta, made the official announcement with a video released on February 14th. Fans can view the video at The video was created by Lily Flynn, a spring intern with the Racers from Kent State University.
Marder, an All-NPF Performer, led the Racers in every offensive category; batting average (.343), homeruns (8) and RBI (27). The former Big Ten Player of the Year adds the 2012 NPF Offensive Player of the Year to a growing number of hardware on her athletic mantle. The defensively solid Racers backstop is a pitcher’s nightmare when she steps into the batter’s box.
Defensively, you cannot get much better than the diminutive hot corner specialist, Kelley Montalvo. Montalvo returns to anchor the infield and has proven day-in-and- day- out, that getting past her quickness and glove work is a formidable task. She shared the 2012 NPF Defensive Player of the Year honors with Chicago’s Amber Patton.
Around the diamond the Racers return utility specialist, Aja Paculba (.250). The former Gator has given new meaning to a solid work ethic by providing the Racers coaching staff with multiple options. She is a “pick up the glove” and play-player that will make it difficult to keep her off the diamond.
Brianna Hesson returns for her second season and will see action at first base and in the outfield. Hesson hit .293 with 5 homeruns and 20 RBI. Lexy Bennett (INF),the Racers first selection in the 2012 NPF Senior Draft, is projected to rejoin the Racers for the 2013 campaign. Taylor Schlopy, the Racers first pick in the 2011 NPF Senior Draft, will slide over to more familiar territory in centerfield to take over for retiring veteran, Lisa Modglin.
The catching corps returns in tact with the resigning of Kaylyn Castillo (ASU)and Jessica Garcia (NMU).Both possess the offensive abilities to add to the Racers run production given their outstanding collegiate careers.
A trio of 2012 first-year pitchers returns to the circle with game experience and the mindset to make a difference in their second season. Hillary Bach (ASU), Jen Mineau (Fordham) and Erin Arevalo (Georgia) are gearing up to contribute in 2013. Bach led the Racers in wins (5); Mineau led all pitchers in ERA (4.44) and Arevalo is looking forward to getting in her first full-season of competition.
All NPF selection in 2012, Nicole Pauly and veteran pitcher, Lisa Norris have been given franchise tags available through the league allowing additional time to finalize contracts beyond the February 15th deadline. The Racers will have until April 30th to get a deal done to return them to the diamond in 2013.
Arrietta, will not set her sights on the free agent market before heading to Palm Springs, CA, next week to take aim at the plethora of talent in the annual Cathedral City Classic. The tournament now carries the name of one of the greatest player, coach, clinician and person this game has ever seen, Mary Nutter.
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 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. The Racers kick-off their 12th season of play in 2013.
About National Pro Fastpitch: National Pro Fastpitch is headquartered in Nashville, TN. The league, created to give elite female fastpitch players the opportunity to pursue a professional career in their chosen sport, has operated since 1997 under the names of Women’s Pro Fastpitch (WPF) and Women’s Pro Softball League (WPSL). NPF is the Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball in the category of women’s fastpitch softball since 2002.

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