By: John Urchek
BATON ROUGE, LA – The Akron Racers dropped the first game of their NPF Championship Series Semifinal matchup to the Scrap Yard Dawgs 4-1 on Thursday evening at Louisiana State University’s Tiger Park.
Dawgs pitching ace Monica Abbott kept the Racer bats at bay on the evening, limiting Akron to just two baserunners in the game.  Abbott walked Racer first baseman Nicole Schroeder with two outs in the top of the second inning and that would stand as the only blemish to Abbott’s night until the seventh inning.  With two outs, Akron right fielder Shellie Robinson stepped in the box against Abbott and launched a 1-0 pitch over the centerfield wall to cut the Dawgs advantage to 4-1.
The home run was Robinson’s second off Abbott in an eight-day period, as last week Robinson hit a walk-off three-run home run to help Akron sweep the Dawgs in a doubleheader as the Racers pursued a spot in the NPF Championship Series.
Abbott would recover after the home run to strike out shortstop Sam Fischer-Cooke for her 14th strikeout of the night.
Defensively Akron came up on the wrong side of a game of inches to allow the Dawgs to take a lead in the bottom of the fourth inning.  After third baseman Kasey Cooper kicked off the frame for the Dawgs by drawing a walk, she raced into second after a pitch slipped out of Racer starting pitcher Jailyn Ford’s hand for a wild pitch.  Shortstop Ali Aguilar followed the wild pitch with a hard ground ball that caromed off the glove of a diving Ashley Thomas, the Racer second baseman narrowly missed collecting the ball, instead Cooper scored and Aguilar darted into second base for a double.
Akron then turned to LSU product Rachele Fico out of the bullpen.  With two outs, Dawgs left fielder Kayla Winkfield lined a pitch right up the middle that just clipped out of Fico’s outstretched glove for a single that allowed Aguilar to score and give the Dawgs a 2-0 lead.
The Dawgs added two insurance runs in the bottom of the sixth inning as Nerissa Myers laced a two-run single up the middle that plated Aguilar and first baseman Britt Vonk to put the Dawgs ahead 4-0.
The third-seeded Racers look to even the best-of-three-game series with the Dawgs on Friday evening, when the two teams meet in Game 2 at 6:00 p.m. ET/5:00 p.m. CT.  The NPF Championship is available to be streamed on NPF TV, the league’s online streaming service, as well as and The Olympic Channel.
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.