AKRON, OH- June 23, 2015- The first of a three game series against the Chicago Bandits kicked off with an hour and a half rain-delay. The Racers offense came out of the gate swinging and led the way by scoring five runs in the first. Racers veteran Sarah Pauly (1.19 ERA) pitched her 3rd complete game of the season, and the Racers pulled away for the 6-0 victory over the Bandits.
Pauly said after the game that she was feeding off of the energy against the USSSA Pride and it worked.
“I am able now to see the strike zone better and gaining more chemistry with Griffin (Joiner) is great,” said Pauly. “Taking my time, not rushing, and just letting the game come to me has helped.”
On the offensive side, the Racers managed to get to Bandits pitcher, Tatum Edwards early. They started off the first inning scorching hot by getting a series of RBI hits from different players. The defense and pitching from Pauly stopped the Bandits from gaining any momentum.
To start the game, shortstop Jill Barrett (Tulsa) walked to first. Next up, center fielder Taylor Schlopy (Georgia) singled moving Barrett to second. Designated player Nerissa Myers (Louisiana at Lafayette) walked as well, loading the bases for the Racers. Left fielder Jen Gilbert's (Ball State) RBI on a fielder's choice brought Barrett home for the first run of the game. Then, first baseman Kailee Cuico (Oregon) smashed a single to center field scoring Schlopy and Myers, improving the score to 3-0.
Cuico and Gilbert both advanced on the bases from a passed ball. Cuico moved to second and Gilbert moved to third.
Second baseman Ashley Thomas then came up to the plate with runners in scoring position and (Georgia Tech) continued the hot first inning by a straight-on single to center, scoring Cuico and Gilbert, making the score 5-0 early.
Racers manager Brian Levin said that he was impressed by their approach and it's a different player stepping up to the plate and contributing every game.
“If you get a lot of runners on base and a couple of key two out hits, that’s huge for us to get on top early,” said Manager Levin. “I think the energy from both teams was a little lacking, but we did what we had to do to win.”
As the game progressed, the pitching and defense clicked on all cylinders, just as much as their offense. In the second inning, rookie catcher, Griffin Joiner (Kentucky), threw out Danielle Zymkowitz, who was caught stealing second.
Joiner has thrown out 5 of 6 runners stealing so far this season. She says that Pauly has taken her under her wing and that she is still learning.
“She grabbed me and was like ‘Hey, will you come catch for me,” said Griffin. “She’s such a great pitcher and she’s also a great person because she’s been in the league for 10 years.”
Then, in the third inning, Tammy Williams for the Bandits hit a ball to left field, but Gilbert dove over the breakaway fence, robbing Williams of a home run.
Gilbert said of her catch, "I trusted Taylor Schlopy, she just told me keep going and I did. The breakaway fence is a dream to play with because you can just dive right into it.”
In the top of 4th inning, right fielder Ayumi Karino copied Gilbert’s play in left. Bandits’ Brittany Cervantes hit a ball to right field that carried over the fence, but Karino snagged it to rob Cervantes a home run.
The fifth inning came along and the Racers offense started to pick up again. Cuico reached first base on an error from Bandits shortstop, Tammy Williams. Joiner walked advancing Cuico to second. Thomas would then single, moving Cuico to third. Karino came up to the plate with the bases loaded. Karino reached base on a fielder's choice, scoring Cuico. The Racers commanded the lead, 6-0.
With the victory, Pauly moves to 4-1 on the season. Her ERA is now at 0.97. She attacked the strike zone of the Bandits hitters, accumulating three strikeouts.
Manager Levin talked about Pauly and her attacking the strike zone of hitters this season and that the defense has helped her out too.
"I think she sets the tone. It must be fun to play defense when Sarah always competes and defensively, you don’t want to let her down.”
The Akron Racers, headquartered in Akron, OH, is 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 14th season of play in 2015.
National Pro Fastpitch is headquartered in Nashville, TN. The league, created to give elite female fast pitch 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 fast pitch softball since 2002. www.profastpitch.com