Sami Fagan Courtesy of National Pro Fastpitch
AKRON, OH (July 15, 2016) – The Akron Racers came into the weekend hot as they started their six-game home stand and in a wild, back-and-forth game, stayed red hot, picking up their fifth straight win 5-4 over the Dallas Charge in eight innings Friday night.
The five-game winning streak is a season-high for Akron.
The Racers (18-11) walked into the bottom of the seventh inning trailing 4-2 and needing to score. Right fielder AJ Andrews (Louisiana State University) started off the inning by pinch hitting for catcher Griffin Joiner (Kentucky). Andrews reached base when Charge (9-18) pitcher Lauren Haeger hit her with a pitch. Center fielder Taylor Schlopy (Georgia) and third baseman Kelley Montalvo (Alabama) both drew walks to load the bases for shortstop Sami Fagan.
Fagan entered Friday night having hit a home run in the seventh inning of the past two games to put Akron ahead for good in those contests. On this night, Fagan battled off numerous Haeger pitches with foul balls, eventually working a 0-2 count to a full count. Then Fagan once again delivered a clutch hit as she knocked a single to right field that scored Andrews and Schlopy to send the game to extra innings 4-4.
“I felt good. I love that situation,” Fagan said. “I love the clutch situation and I felt the whole night that I was seeing her really well. I just was telling myself track the ball and hit it, so I ended up doing that.”
After a quick 1-2-3 inning in the top of the eighth inning, Dallas reliever Cheridan Hawkins hit first baseman Sandra Simmons (Louisiana State University) and right fielder Cassie Tysarczyk (Texas A&M) on her first two pitches of the game in the bottom of the eighth inning. Joiner successfully laid down a sacrifice bunt that moved the runners up to second and third base, respectively. With second baseman Ashley Thomas at the plate, Hawkins sent a wild pitch sailing off the glove of catcher Kaylyn Castillo to allow Simmons to race home for the winning run.
“We need to continue to do what we’re doing, just have fun out there and enjoy ourselves,” Coach Brian Levin said. “That’s when we play our best.”
The Racers were the first to put a run on the board in the bottom of the first inning, Schlopy hit a solo shot to right field, giving Akron the early 1-0 lead. Shellie Robinson (USC-Upstate) extended the lead in the bottom of the third inning when she fired a single to left field, receiving her 14th RBI of the season and bringing Schlopy home.
“I’m feeling pretty good,” Schlopy said. “I’m just letting the ball come to me and trying to slow things down and just get on base for the next person behind me, so we can string our hits together.”
Schlopy scored three runs and was 1-for-2 with a home run and two walks.
Racers starter Aimee Creger threw five hitless innings, controlling the Charge offense for most of the game, before Dallas came to life in the top of the sixth inning.
“I felt very comfortable,” Creger said. “I was actually very strong after coming off yesterday’s bus ride, but I felt really loose and really confident in Griff’s pitch calls.
“One pitch can change a game for either team, so it is really important that we win each pitch, each batter, each inning and ultimately win each game, no matter how it happens.”
The Charge were able to secure four runs in the top of the sixth inning after Renada Davis walked up to the plate with bases loaded and blasted a grand slam out of the ballpark to give the Charge a 4-2 lead.
After the home run and a single by Kylee Lahners, Rachele Fico entered the game in relief of Creger and finished the game to earn her first win of the season.
The Racers will be back at Firestone Stadium tomorrow at 7:05 p.m. as they take on the Charge in game-two of the series. Contact the Akron Racers ticket office at 330-376- 8188 or online at www.akronracers.org for ticket information.
PLAY BY PLAY
About the Dallas Charge:
The Dallas Charge, headquartered in McKinney, TX, began competition in the National Pro Fastpitch league in 2015. The Charge provide elite softball players the opportunity to pursue a professional career and inspire the next generation of professionals. Located in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, the Charge organization and its players are committed to demonstrating leadership in community involvement, entertainment, and professionalism. Follow the Dallas Charge at www.dallascharge.com.
About the Akron Racers:
The Akron Racers, headquartered in Akron, OH, are the oldest existing team in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) league, celebrating their 15th Season of Play in 2016. 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 2002, provides elite female athletes with an opportunity to pursue a professional career in diamond sports beyond their collegiate success. The 2016 NPF season will be televised on CBS Sports Network. Coverage includes the NPF College Draft presented by Bownet on Thur., April 14, followed by 23 regular-season games, a Championship Series Preview Special and the 2016 NPF Championship Series. The NPF recently announced that the Scrap Yard Dawgs, located in The Woodlands, Texas, will join the Akron Racers, Chicago Bandits, Dallas Charge, Pennsylvania Rebellion and USSSA Florida Pride for the 2016 season. National Pro Fastpitch players hail from the U.S., Australia, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands and New Zealand, representing the most accomplished and talented athletes in the sport of women’s softball.
Note to Media
Photos and b-roll of players is available. Interviews with the league commissioner are welcomed, and top players from each team are accessible immediately. If you’re interested in pursuing story angles about professional softball for women, please don’t hesitate to contact us.