Jessica Garcia Photo by Danny Karnik Courtesy of National Por Fastpitch
Hoover, AL - August 20, 2014 - Akron designated player Jessica Garcia lined a two-run double to right-center field in the top of the sixth, and pitcher Lisa Norris threw a complete game to lead the Racers to a 2-1 victory over the Chicago Bandits in the opening game of the 2014 NPF Championship Series being played at the Hoover Met in Hoover, AL.
Akron threatened in the top of the first after a one-out single to left field by left fielder Jill Barrett and a bunt single by Nerissa Myers, the NPF Offensive Player of the Year. However, Chicago starting pitcher Monica Abbott shut down the threat by getting a pop out and then striking out Garcia.
In the bottom of the first, Chicago got a leadoff double to left center by Megan Wiggins; Wiggins moved to third on a groundout by Amber Patton. Wiggins scored on a passed ball for a 1-0 lead. One out later, both catcher Kristen Butler and first baseman Brittany Cervantes drew walks on 3-1 counts, giving the Bandits runners on first and second with two outs; designated player Alisa Goler walked on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases. Norris got right fielder RT Cantillo to fly out to left to end the inning.
The Bandits had runners on second and third with two outs in the bottom of the fourth, but Norris got Patton to ground out and end the threat.
Abbott had retired 11 in a row, including six strikeouts, before centerfielder Taylor Schlopy led off the top of the fifth with a single to right for Akron. Schlopy moved to second on a sacrifice bunt by Montalvo. Abbott then struck out Racers catcher Haley Outon and second baseman Ashley Thomas to end the Racers’ half of the inning.
In the top of the sixth, with one out, Barrett singled and stole second for the Racers. Abbott struck out Myers swinging. After a walk to Akron first baseman Charlotte Morgan, Garcia doubled to right center, driving in two runs and giving the Racers a 2-1 lead.
Chicago came right back in the bottom of the sixth. With one out, Cantillo was hit by a pitch, then advanced to third on a fielding error, giving the Bandits runners on the corners. Second baseman Danielle Zymkowitz grounded to second, and Thomas fired to the plate to get Cantillo for the second out. Wiggins grounded to first to end Chicago’s half-inning.
Norris allowed a one-out single in the bottom of the seventh, but struck out Butler for the second out. Cervantes singled to right, giving the Bandits runners on first and second, with two outs. Goler singled to left, loading the bases for Chicago with two outs. Norris got Cantillo to pop out to short to end the game.
Norris pitched all seven innings, scattering eight hits and striking out one. She allowed just the one unearned run.
With her two-RBI double in the sixth, Garcia was named the DeMarini Difference Maker of the game.
The Racers’ roster included several names familiar to softball fans in the state of Alabama. Pitcher Lannah Campbell played for the University of Alabama at Birmingham, while her twin sister, Hannah, played collegiately at the University of South Alabama. Charlotte Morgan and Kelley Montalvo both played for the University of Alabama.
Akron and Chicago will play the second of their best-of-three series tomorrow at 5:30 p.m.
Next Akron Racers – Chicago Bandits Game 2: Thursday, August 21, 2014 8:00 PM CT
About Akron Racers
The Akron Racers, headquartered in Akron, OH, are the oldest existing team in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) league. 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. The Racers kick-off their 13th season of play in 2014.
About Chicago Bandits
Since 2005, the Chicago Bandits have been members of National Pro Fastpitch. Located in the Chicagoland area, the Bandits provide an opportunity for female fastpitch players to further their careers at a professional level. The roster has included such names as Jennie Finch, Stacy May and Monica Abbott. The two-time NPF Champions play at The Ballpark at Rosemont, the only stadium in the country built for a women’s professional team.
About National Pro Fastpitch
National Pro Fastpitch is headquarted 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 name 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.