KANNAPOLIS – The Carolina Diamonds (3-10) got back to their winning ways with an extra inning 5-4 victory over the Akron Racers on a hot Friday night at CMC-NorthEast Stadium in Kannapolis.
It was GiOnna DiSalvatore who would hit a shot between third and short to send Amanda Kamekona around from second base and sliding into home for the ninth inning victory.
“It was definitely a team effort, not one person sat out. Everybody all through the lineup, both offensively and defensively, did something big,” DiSalvatore said after the winning hit.
The Racers (5-8) first got on the scoreboard in the first inning when Kaylyn Castillo drove in Sharonda McDonald.
Carolina tied it up in the bottom of the third when a Rachel Folden hit resulted in a double play to end the inning. When Folden tried to stretch a single into a double after Racers first basemen Nicole Trimboli bobbled the throw from second, but not before Caitlin Lever scored scored from third base.
Akron then made it 2-1 when Racers third baseman Kelley Montalvo hit a blast to left field in the fourth inning.
The Diamonds tied it up once again in the bottom of the inning when rookie shortstop Kelsi Weseman hit her own shot to left field.
The back and forth continued in the next inning when Kaylyn Castillo was driven in by a Brianna Hesson single to make it 3-2 in favor of the Racers. It would stay this way until the bottom of the seventh when Caitlin Lever hit a solo home run with two outs to push the game into extra innings for the Diamonds.
Each team would then go tit for tat in the ninth, first with a Nicole Pauly first pitch home run for the Racers. A third out catch by Caitlin Lever at the wall - which sent her through it too - kept the Diamonds alive in the top of the ninth.
The Diamonds came out swinging with Jamie Lobpries’ homer on the first pitch equalizing the game. It would take a few more batters until DiSalvatore’s single and RBI pushed the Diamonds to victory.
“I did whatever everyone else was doing,” Lever said after the game.
Lever also pointed the entire team and singled out pitcher Katie Burkhart, who threw a complete game and struck out 11 to improve her record to 3-4.
“If we didn’t have Burkhart there pitching her heart out none of us would have mattered,” Lever said. “This game meant a lot. And I think a lot of things are happening at this point and changes are being made, and it made a huge statement to know that we are going to come together and we are going to be the Diamonds, regardless of anything else.”
For new interim head coach (and former North Carolina State University head coach) Lisa Navas the game may have been longer and in the high heat, but a lot of fun at the same time.
“That was a lot of fun. It was a little long in terms of hours for the game, I’m starving to death, but the kids know that it’s about them and that they have got to make things happen for themselves,” Navas said afterwards. “But they fought all game and it just went our way.”
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.