Akron, Ohio – The Akron Racers hung tough on Tuesday night against the United States National team in an exhibition, but wound up falling just short 6-2. The Racers jumped out to a 2-0 lead and never trailed the American Olympic team until the top of the seventh inning. In the top of the seventh inning, Team USA mounted a four run inning to break a 2-2 tie.
The Racers (14-14) got all their offense early as Veronica Wootson lead off the game with a lined shot up the middle for a leadoff base hit. Kristen Butler got the big blow when she crushed a ball towards the atmosphere. The ball kept trailing until it soared over the leftfield fence for a two run homer to give Akron the 2-0 lead.
After the two hits and two runs given up in the first, USA starter Monica Abbott (16-0) settled down and only surrendered one more hit the rest of the game to pick up the win. Abbott went the full distance allowing two runs on three hits and two walks in seven innings of work.
Runs were tough to come by for Team USA (57-1) most the game as well. The Racers put Angela Tincher in the circle and she did not disappoint. Just months after no hitting team USA, Tincher retired the first six batters she faced.
Things got a little more interesting in the top of the third inning. Lauren Lappin led off with a single to center and then advanced to third when centerfielder Kim Hamilton misplayed the ball. On the very next batter, Lappin was cut down at home by shortstop Jessica Toocheck for the first out. After a walk put runners on first and second with one out, Natasha Watley scored Lovieanne Jung with a base hit to cut the lead to 2-1. From there, Tincher got out of the inning with no more damage.
That would be the end of Tincher’s night in this exhibition game as she left after giving up one run on two hits and one walk in three innings of work. After Tincher, the Racers turned to Angel Shamblin who gave up a run in the top of the fifth inning to tie the game at two. Shamblin gave up the run on one hit and a pair of walks in two innings.
Things stayed tied at two through the rest of the fifth and sixth innings. The seventh inning got a little rough as Radara McHugh gave up a hit and a walk before getting Crystl Bustos to fly out to
rightfield. With runners on the corners and one out, Akron went back to the bullpen a final time to bring in Jamee Juarez. The Racers hurler gave up an RBI single to Kelly Kretschman to give USA their first lead of the game. Andrea Duran stepped up next and smashed a three run homer to leftfield to break the game open and give the game its final score of 6-2.
A crowd of more than 6,000 were treated to a great game of softball with big names and big plays to cheer for all night on both sides of the field.
Up next for the Racers is a four game set in Rockford, Illinois that begins tomorrow and runs through Saturday. The Racers return home next Tuesday to play eight straight days against the Rockford Thunder and the Chicago Bandits. For ticket information, contact the Racers at 330-376-8188.
For Team USA it’s two more stops on the Bound 4 Beijing Tour before they head off to the Olympics next month.