FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - CONTACT: Rita Chinyere, PHONE: 330-376-8188
AKRON, Ohio – The Akron Racers are set to host the 2009 National Pro Fastpitch Championship Series at Firestone Stadium from August 19-23rd. The NPF Championship Series will feature the top four teams in the league which would currently include the Chicago Bandits, Akron Racers, Rockford Thunder and U.S.S.S.A. Pride. The top four teams, along with the current fifth placeholder, the Philadelphia Force, should make the final two weeks of play interesting with each squad boasting a slew of Olympians and standout collegiate players who’ll battle it out on the diamond to determine which four are destined for the “Road 2 Akron”.
With two weeks of play left in the regular season, the defending NPF Champion, Chicago Bandits remain in first place with a 22-7 overall mark heading into this week’s home stint against the second place Akron Racers who boast a 22-13 record, August 5-9 in Elgin, Ill. The Bandits will host cross-town rival Rockford Thunder to close out the season, August 12-16. The Bandits will rely on veteran pitching from Jennie Finch and Eileen Canney who currently leads the league in wins (9) and ERA (1.59) and is third with strikeouts (78) on the year. The 2008 player of the year Stacy May as well as 2008 championship MVP Nicole Trimboli will likely contribute to Chicago's offensive output as they look to solidify their spot as the overall number one seed heading into the playoffs.
With a bye week scheduled the final week of the regular season, the second place Akron Racers, including current triple-crown leader, Crystl Bustos will sit out to watch the rest of the action unfold around the league. Akron’s pitching squad, including rookie Lisa Norris (8-5) who has amassed eight wins (the most on the staff) in her first season of professional softball will play a big role in Akron’s success; as the team awaits the return of USA National standout Angela Tincher (6-2) who is currently on tour in Japan. Norris holds the distinction of tossing one of two perfect games in the 2009 season of NPF action, hurling a 4-0 victory over the Rockford Thunder at Firestone Stadium in June. The league leading Chicago Bandits’ ace Jennie Finch threw the other perfect game, also in June, firing a 3-0 win on the road against Philadelphia.
The third place Rockford Thunder (15-15) will close out the season on the road, heading to Florida to face the U.S.S.S.A. Pride, August 5-9 before taking on the Bandits in the final week of play. Rockford will rely on veterans Amanda Williams and Chelsea Spencer to support the team down the homestretch while veteran pitcher Cat Osterman (8-0) leads the league with 97 strikeouts, will look to end the season undefeated.
The U.S.S.S.A. Pride (11-19) sit in the fourth seed currently but will have to face the Philadelphia Force (9-25) in Allentown, Pa. during the final series of the season to ward off the Force for the fourth and final slot to Akron. The Pride and Force both boast a slew of talent on their lineups with Olympians such as Kelly Kretschman, Monica Abbott and the gifted Georgia graduate, Kristen Schnake gracing the Pride’s roster. The Pride will certainly have their hands full in the finale as Philadelphia touts a stacked roster of their own. Texas A&M standout pitcher and designated player Megan Gibson will pose a roadblock to the Pride as will NPF veterans Clare Burnum and DeDe Justice who collectively account for over half of the Force’s offensive production on the season.
Schedule of Events and Ticket Information:
Wednesday, August 19th will serve as FanFest and open celebrations for the Championship Series. The Backyard BBQ featuring live music by the Steve Flaughers Band, Celebrity Home Run Hitting Contest (featuring Media Personalities and Sponsors), player autographs, games as well as contests! Gates will open at 4:00 pm and will conclude upon completion of the Battle of the Bats contest. In addition to the Battle of the Bats finale, FanFest will serve as the NPF Award Ceremony. Admission is priced at just $5 per person.
Thursday, August 20th marks the opening of the Championship Series. Gates will open at 3:00 pm with “Playoff Game #1,” featuring the #1 seed vs. #4 seed taking place at 6:00 pm. “Playoff Game #2” will showcase #2 seed vs. #3 seed and start at approximately 8:45 pm.
Competition resumes on Friday, August 21st with “Playoff game #3” pitting the #1 seed against the #4 seed at 6:00 pm. Gates at Firestone Stadium will open at 3:00 pm. “Playoff game #4” featuring #1 and #3 seeds will be played at approximately 8:45 pm.
Ticket Prices for Thursday and Friday will run $13 a session (includes 2 games) for Stadium Seating/Cambria Suites Bleachers/Terrace Seating and $14 a session (includes 2 games) VIP Seating and $15 a session (includes 2 games).
Should the Championship field not be decided upon conclusion of Friday’s games, if necessary matchups will be scheduled on Saturday, August 22nd. If necessary “Playoff Game #5” will serve as a tie-breaker between the #1 and #4 seeds at 1:00 pm. Tickets for the day will go on sale at 9:00 am with gates opening at 10:00 am. The second if necessary game would begin at approximately 4:00 pm and serve as a tie-breaker between the #2 and #3 seeds. Please note that tickets for ‘if necessary’ games will not go on sale until SATURDAY morning and will be priced accordingly:
$7/$13 - Stadium Seating/Cambria Suites Bleachers/Terrace Seating (one game/two games)
$8/$14 - VIP Seating (one game/two games)
The first championship game is scheduled for Saturday, August 22nd at approximately 7:00 pm.
Championship play will continue on Sunday, August 23rd with championship game two scheduled for 1:00 pm. Gates will open at 9:00 am with an if necessary tie-breaker slated for 4:00 pm.
Tickets for the Championship games will be priced as follows for EACH game:
$8 - Stadium Seating/Cambria Suites Bleachers/Terrace Seating
$9 - VIP Seating
A post-game trophy and championship MVP Award Presentation will follow upon conclusion of the championship game with the Cowles Cup being presented to the 2009 NPF Champion.
Fans unavailable to make the trip to Akron, Ohio to catch the Championship Series in person can tune in from home. All games will be streamed via profastpitch.com thanks to NPF’s partnership with MLB.com as well as live statistics which will be available via Gametracker.
Tickets for the Championship series go on sale, Tuesday, August 4th at 9:00 AM EDT. Fans can call the Akron Racers Box Office at 330-376-8188 or purchase them online by visiting ticketreturn.com.