Akron, Ohio - The Akron Racers pitched, ran and powered their way past Denso Japan 2-1 in an exhibition game, before their series officially begins Thursday.
Racers pitcher April Valdez made her first start for the Racers Wednesday night and did an excellent job. Valdez kept control of the game all night, only allowing runners into scoring position three times. When the Racer pitcher did get into any trouble she would always escape with a little help from her teammates.
Twice Akron first baseman, Ianeta Le'i ended an inning by making a great catch with runners on base. The first came in the top of the fourth inning, with pinch runner Aya Nogi on second base Le'i jumped up and snagged a drive off of the bat of Minako Tanaka. The catch took away a hit that most likely would have tied the game at one.
Two innings later Le'i ranged to her right to steal a hit from Yukiko Wada when the Racers were holding onto their 2-1 lead.
Racer second baseman and lead off hitter, Veronica Wootson, set the tone for Akron offensively, once again. In the home half of the first, Wootson singled off of Denso starter Yuki Katayama. The sppedster didn't stop there, before Japan could get set for the next batter Wootson kept going and stole second base. Wootson scored two batters later when she dashed home from third as Katayama threw to first to get Iyhia McMichael out.
The score would stay 1-0 until designated player Jenn Poore stepped up and crushed a home run left field.
With the score, 2-0 Denso answered with their only offense of the night. The top of the sixth began with first baseman Kazue Itoh crushing a home run of her own to cut the lead in half.
That was as close as Japan would get. Valdez ended the evening going the distance, allowing eight hits and recording a pair of walks and strikeouts each and giving up one run.
For Denso, Katayama went 4.1 innings while giving up two runs on four hits.
Akron and Denso begin their series officially at 7:05 PM Thursday night at Firestone Stadium with dollar dog night.
For more information, you can contact the Akron Racer ticket office at (330)376-8188.