LOWELL, Mass. Going into tonights game in Arizona, the magic number is 5 for the New England Riptide to clinch the fourth and final National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) playoff spot. Any combination of New England Riptide wins and Arizona Heat losses totaling five officially qualify The Riptide for the playoffs.
NPF womens softball playoff and championship formats have been changed due to economic considerations and Akron, Ohio will host all playoff games as well as the championship series. Akron will share revenues with participating clubs.
The format change means the final six-game homestand, starting August 12 and concluding Aug. 18, will be the final time local fans can watch the New England Riptide this season. The local nine is completing its final regular season road trip tonight (Monday) and tomorrow evening at Tucson in two crucial games against the Arizona Heat.
Five is The Riptides (21-30) magic number to clinch a playoff berth going into tonights game versus The Heat (16-34). With nine games to go in the regular season, New England holds a 4 ½ game lead over The Heat, thanks to last nights 5-1 win. Ashley Moore was 2-for-3, including a double and triple, with two runs scored and two RBI. Rachael McGinnis also was 2-for-3 with two RBI, while Nichole Thompson was 2-for-4. Leigh Ann Ellis (4-9, 1.71 ERA) was the complete game, winning pitcher for New England. The Riptide leads the series against The Heat, 7-3, and has the first tiebreaker advantage determined by head-to-head competition during the regular season.
The first-place Texas Thunder (34-15) has opened a small lead over the Akron Racers (33-17) and NY/NJ Juggernaut (32-18) in their battle for the regular season title. All three have qualified for the playoffs. The top four teams in the final standings qualify for the playoffs with first place vs. fourth and second vs. third in the best-of-three series. Playoff winners will advance to the best-of-five NPF championship series.
Lowells recently retired boxer Irish Micky Ward will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Friday nights (Aug. 13) game between The Riptide and visiting Texas Thunder. Ward fought in the 2001, 2002 and 2003 Fights of Year. Hell stay around for a few innings signing autographs and posing for pictures.
The New England Riptide tickets are priced at $8.00 for individual games. All seating is general admission at Martin Softball Field. Go to www.neriptide.com or call 866-4RIPTIDE for more information.
Remaining Games Aug. 10 (7:35) at Tucson vs. Arizona Heat
Aug. 12 (7:05 pm) at Lowell vs. Texas Thunder
Aug. 13 (7:05 pm) at Lowell vs. Texas Thunder
Aug. 14 (1:05 pm) at Lowell vs. Texas Thunder
Aug. 16 (7:05 pm) at Lowell vs. Akron Racers
Aug. 17 (7:05 pm) at Lowell vs. Akron Racers
Aug. 18 (7:05 pm) at Lowell vs. Akron Racers