AKRON, OH. – July 21, 2015 - The Akron Racers in need of a victory turned to Sarah Pauly and the pitcher delivered, throwing her eighth complete game of the season in a 6-0 victory over the Dallas Charge. It was Pauly's second complete game shutout against the Charge (12-21) this series.
Pauly mentioned fatigue hurt her in the first inning as the Charge opened the game with the bases loaded, but she settled down after that.
“From that inning on, I was ready to go for the game,” Pauly said. “I tried to mix my pitches a little more. When the defense steps up, it gets me pumped up so that helps too.”
The defense stepped up right away as Akron (15-16) shortstop Jill Barrett kicked off the game with a fantastic diving catch in shallow leftfield to rob Dallas first baseman Kaitlyn Richardson of a single.
“For the catch, the sun was pretty bad. I thought I was burnt, but I just turned around and just laid out for it,” Barrett said.
After the first inning jam, Pauly settled in and went on to retire 9 of the last 11 batters she faced. The right-hander also recorded a season-high eight strikeouts. Pauly surrendered eight hits and two walks.
“It seems to me after every Sarah Pauly outing (she shows) how amazing she is,” Combs said. “Every time she’s pitched, she knows exactly what the hitters will do. She studies the game with her catchers and collects her own information as well.”
After struggling to score early for most of the series, the Racers' bats came alive quickly. Center fielder Taylor Schlopy provided the early offensive spark as she doubled to the right-center field gap. Racers veteran leftfielder Jessica Garcia would then smash a single to center to score Schlopy, giving Akron a 1-0 lead.
Racers rightfielder Ayumi Karino (Japan), who leads the team with a .321 batting average, provided a spark for the team in the second inning.
After catcher Griffin Joiner (Kentucky) led off the inning with an infield single, Karino beat out a bunt single. A throwing error by Dallas pitcher Jolene Henderson on the play scored Joiner and pushed Karino all the way to third base. Shortstop Jill Barrett crushed an RBI single to bring Karino home. The Racers led 3-0.
“Our game plan was to just make good contact and eventually the hits would fall,” Barrett said. "I think we did a really good job squaring up the ball and (the hits) fell and they fell in our favor."
The Racers would cap the scoring in the bottom of the sixth inning with a pair of insurance runs. Designated player Nerissa Myers (Louisiana-Lafayette) ripped a two-run double to left-center field that scored Schlopy and Barrett.
Barrett, who had two hits, scored a run, drove in an RBI and swiped her team-leading fifth stolen base of the season, led Akron offensively. Karino went 3 for 3 with a run scored and Schlopy scored two runs.
The Charge were led by centerfielder Eri Yamada and catcher Kazuki Watanabe, who had two hits apiece.
The Racers head to Kissimmee, Florida to play the USSSA Pride in a four game series starting Wednesday evening. Dallas goes to Chicago to play the Bandits beginning Thursday.
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 o 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