Akron, OH (June 8, 2016) – On a night that began with the Akron Racers kicking off the celebration of their 15th Season of Play this season and recognizing the fans, players and people that have enhanced their journey, it was a group of newcomers that stepped forward to show a glimpse into the future of Racer softball defeating the Pennsylvania Rebellion 10-2.
That impact was showcased almost immediately as first round draft pick Sami Fagan got her professional career off to a powerful start. The designated player from Missouri blasted a solo home run to right-center field to jump start a six run first inning for Akron (2-1) in her first professional at-bat.
“The whole entire at-bat I was trying to slow my heart rate down because I was really excited for my first professional at bat,” Fagan said. “I was seeing her really well, I actually faced (Rebellion starting pitcher Emily Weiman) in college and I knew that I could hit here.”
Following Fagan, centerfielder, Taylor Schlopy (Georgia), and left fielder, Shellie Robinson (South Carolina – Upstate), drew back-to-back walks. Shortstop, Sam Fischer (Loyola-Marymount), drove in Schlopy with a base hit up the middle. First baseman, Jenn Gilbert (Ball State), then belted a three-run homer to right field to break open the game by a score of 5-0. Second baseman, Ashley Thomas (Georgia Tech), rounded out the inning with a double down right field line to switch places with third baseman, Kelley Montalvo (Alabama), who doubled two batters earlier.
Taking the circle with a six run lead rookie pitcher, Jailyn Ford (James Madison), delivered a nearly flawless professional debut. Ford threw five innings and retired the side in order in every inning except the second inning.
“Coming in as a rookie and your first game, it’s the home opener and all that excitement and pressure, and she just threw a tremendous game,” Racers Field Manager Brian Levin said. “I was really impressed with her.”
In the top of the second frame, Rebellion (3-5) catcher, Kristyn Sandberg, picked up a single on a line drive off the tip of Ford’s glove and designated player Mandy Ogle hit a line drive to centerfield. With runners on the corners, Ford got shortstop Chaley Brickey to foul out to catcher Griffin Joiner (Kentucky) to end the inning.
Starting with Brickey, Ford went on to retire the last 10 hitters she faced before leaving the game for reliever Laura Winter (Notre Dame). Ford finished her day allowing two hits, no walks and striking out three in five innings.
“I was pretty comfortable out there, our offense did their job and our defense was making plays too,” Ford said. “It allowed me and (Joiner) to settle in and work together.
Pennsylvania relief Dallas Escobedo kept the Racer bats at bay after the first inning until Akron put the game completely out of reach in the bottom of the fifth inning. Schlopy opened the inning with a solo blast over the centerfield fence. After Robinson doubled, Gilbert blasted her second home run of the game to center to make the score 9-0. Montalvo followed with the Racers’ fifth home run of the game to close Akron’s scoring.
“I was just trying to see my pitch and get a good pitch,” Gilbert said of her night.
The Racers now lead the league with 10 home runs in just three games.
The Rebellion got on the scoreboard in the top of the seventh inning when pinch hitter Courtney Senas and Ogle both smacked solo home runs to cut Akron’s lead to 10-2, but that’s as close as Pennsylvania would get as pinch hitter Brittany Gomez flew out to Robinson to end the game.
The Racers were paced offensively by Gilbert with two home runs and five RBI, Montalvo (2-3, 2 runs, 1 RBI) and Thomas, who went 3-for-3.
Akron welcomes the Rebellion back for Game 2 of their three-game series at Firestone Stadium tomorrow afternoon for a 12:05 pm game. Contact the Racers box office at 330-376-8188 or online at www.akronracers.org to order tickets.
About the Pennsylvania Rebellion:
The Rebellion is a professional women’s softball team competing as part of the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF). In their third season in the league, the Rebellion will play head-to-head against the most talented players in the sport. Games are broadcast nationally and draw local fans of all ages to experience the action live. NPF is an Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball. For more information about the Pennsylvania Rebellion, please visit www.pennsylvaniarebellion.com or call 724-250-9555.
About the Akron Racers:
The Akron Racers, headquartered in Akron, OH, are the oldest existing team in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) league, celebrating their 15th Season of Play in 2016. 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.
About National Pro Fastpitch (NPF):
National Pro Fastpitch (NPF), an Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball since 2002, provides elite female athletes with an opportunity to pursue a professional career in diamond sports beyond their collegiate success. The 2016 NPF season will be televised on CBS Sports Network. Coverage includes the NPF College Draft presented by Bownet on Thur., April 14, followed by 23 regular-season games, a Championship Series Preview Special and the 2016 NPF Championship Series. The NPF recently announced that the Scrap Yard Dawgs, located in The Woodlands, Texas, will join the Akron Racers, Chicago Bandits, Dallas Charge, Pennsylvania Rebellion and USSSA Florida Pride for the 2016 season. National Pro Fastpitch players hail from the U.S., Australia, Canada, Japan, the Netherlands and New Zealand, representing the most accomplished and talented athletes in the sport of women’s softball.
Note to Media
Photos and b-roll of players is available. Interviews with the league commissioner are welcomed, and top players from each team are accessible immediately. If you’re interested in pursuing story angles about professional softball for women, please don’t hesitate to contact us.