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Norris Strong, Montalvo Blasts Walkoff HR To Beat Pride

Lisa Norris Photo Courtesy of Natioanl Pro Fastpitch

Akron, OH – August 7, 2014 - This year’s Akron Racers team seems to come through in important moments at home no matter the circumstance, and Thursday evening’s game was par for the course.

Starting pitcher Lisa Norris held the potent USSSA Pride lineup to two runs in seven innings and Kelley Montalvo delivered a walkoff two-run home run to propel the Racers to a 4-2 win.

Taylor Schlopy led off the Racers 7th inning with a double and the Pride removed starting pitcher Keilani Ricketts in favor of Jordan Taylor. Taylor struck out pinch-hitter Brianna Cherry to set up the heroics for Montalvo.

“In my mind, all I kept thinking was, there’s no better spot I can be in,” Montalvo said. “Taylor Schlopy is at second base, she did her job. I was like, we’re going to finish this right here. Taylor gave me a little nod at second, like ‘we’re going to do it.’ ”

Montalvo indeed finished the game at that moment, improving the Racers record at Firestone Stadium to 15-5.

“That was incredible,” Racers Field Manager Brian Levin said. “Monty is such a fireball; just nothing but energy. We made a move [before the game]; dropped her to the seven position from the five position hitting, and she came up at the right time. It wasn’t something that you plan but it worked out.”

Norris allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits and two walks, striking out three to earn her fourth win of the year. After battling injuries early in the season, she has rounded into form with a 2.35 ERA in her last six appearances.

“She’s getting back to the pitcher she was a couple years ago, before all the injuries,” Levin said. “I think she’s somewhat healthy; we’re trying to manage a little bit of that. I think she’s getting back to where she’s about 100%, or as healthy as she can be.”

Ricketts was cruising through three shutout innings with five strikeouts and a 2-0 lead, but Charlotte Morgan greeted her with a solo home run on the first pitch of the 5th inning.

The Racers added another run in the 5th. Ayumi Karino hit two-out triple and scored on Jill Barrett’s bunt as Pride second baseman Amanda Kamekona dropped the throw covering first.

“She was getting a lot of first-pitch strikes, getting ahead of us early and then toying with us,” Levin said. “So our message to the team was start attacking early in the count, and that’s what they did. Charlotte hit a first pitch home run, and later Schlopy hit a first pitch double.”

The Racers have come from behind in seven on their 15 wins at home, including four last-at-bat wins and three walkoffs.

“I think they believe if we’re in a game, we can win it,” Levin said. “They believe you’ve gotta play all 21 outs, you never take one off. You’re not out of it until that last pitch is thrown and that last out is made, and they believe that.”

The Racers and Pride continue their series Friday night at 7:05 PM. For tickets or info call the Racers at 330-376-8188.

Box Score: Click Here

Firestone Stadium – Akron, OH

Pride 2, Racers 4

Pride (28-13), Racers (21-20)

Next Game:
Friday, August 8 at 7:05 PM EDT USSSA Pride vs Akron Racers at Firestone Stadium - Akron, OH.

About USSSA Florida Pride
The USSSA Florida Pride is a professional franchise in the National Pro Fastpitch League that is owned and operated by USSSA. The amateur organization of USSSA has multi-sport coverage and encompasses teams and players from the United States and abroad.

About 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 13th season of play in 2014.

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.