Jen Gilbert Photo Courtesy of National Pro Fastpitch
AKRON, OH (June 13, 2016) – The Akron Racers have gotten off to a fast start at home this season and they had opportunities to extend their winning streak to five games, but with the game on the line, the Dallas Charge made the plays necessary to come away with a 7-6 victory at Firestone Stadium Monday night.
The Racers (5-2) held the lead twice in the game at 2-0 and 4-2, but after a five-run top of the seventh inning by the Charge (4-3), they suddenly found themselves trailing for the first time in the series in the bottom of the seventh inning 7-4.
Akron refused to go quietly as second baseman Ashley Thomas (Georgia Tech) started the last inning with a single back up the middle. After third baseman Kelley Montalvo (Alabama) earned a four-pitch walk, Thomas was brought home by shortstop Sami Fagan’s screeching line drive into the right field corner for a double. Two batters later left fielder Shellie Robinson (South Carolina-Upstate) brought Montalvo home on a ground ball to shortstop, Robinson reached first base safely when Dallas’ Caitlin Attfield couldn’t field the ball cleanly. Designated player Alex Hugo (Georgia) loaded the bases with an infield single and the Racers only trailing 7-6. Charge pitcher Lauren Haeger got first baseman Jennifer Gilbert to strike out swinging for the second out, then Akron right fielder Cassie Tysarczyk (Texas A&M) battled Haeger to a full count, after Tysarczyk fouled one pitch back off the screen, Haeger threw a pitch on the inside corner that got Tysarczyk looking for the final out of the game.
“I tell them I’m proud of them because of the way they came back and showed some resilience and never quit,” Levin said. “We could’ve just laid down there in the last inning but we came back and had opportunities to win it.”
The Racers entered the seventh inning with a 4-2 lead, but after being held at bay for most of the series, the Charge bats woke up. After Haeger earned a one-out walk, back-to-back hits by second baseman Kylee Lahners and first baseman Kaitlyn Richardson loaded the bases. Haeger beat a throw home by Thomas on a Brianna Cherry ground ball for the first run of the inning. Nikia Williams found space in left field to land a single of her own and tie the game 4-4. An RBI sacrifice fly for Danielle Henderson and two straight RBI singles by Attfield and Taylor Gadbois made it 7-4, and proved to be just enough offense to squeak out with the victory at Firestone stadium.
“They came out and hit the ball,” field manager Brian Levin said. “Sometimes you just tip your hat. The other team drove the ball well.”
The Racers put up a crooked number and opened up the scoring column in the second when with one out, designated player Hugo surprised the Charge by dropping down a bunt. Haeger then began to unravel, walking the next three consecutive batters and plating Hugo. Then with the bases loaded, Montalvo beat out a throw to first for an infield single that scored right fielder Tysarczyk and put the Racers up 2-0.
In the top of the fourth, Haeger tried to jump start her team’s offense and help her own cause out there on the mound by rocketing a solo shot clear past the fence in center field to cut the Racer advantage in half at 2-1.
Dallas threatened in the fifth inning loading up the bases with two outs, but the 11-year veteran Pauly induced a Kylee Lahners pop up to the shortstop Fagan to retire the side and keep the Racers in front. This ended Pauly’s night as she went 5.0 innings allowing just one run on six hits.
“I felt more comfortable,” Pauly said. “I was able to get my timing back. Really communicating with my catcher was the key in tonight’s game.”
Akron pitcher Jailyn Ford (James Madison) came on to pitch the sixth, but surrendered a one out double to Cherry. Henderson brought Cherry home on an infield single to tie the game 2-2.
Robinson turned a leadoff single into a double in the sixth inning, sparking a late rally that aimed to regain the lead for the Racers. A sacrifice bunt from Hugo bumped Robinson to third.
“We don’t give up,” Robinson said. “Whether we’re down 1 or 5. We get along so great and gel really well together. I’m really excited for the rest of the season.”
With just one out, it was Gilbert delivered the base knock to score Robinson and ignite the Akron offense late. Pinch runner AJ Andrews (LSU) took Gilbert’s spot on the base paths and advanced all the way to third base on a steal and a throwing error on Charge catcher Kaylyn Castillo.
Coach Levin called for the squeeze and Tysarczyk delivered with the RBI bunt single to bring home Andrews and give Akron the 4-2 lead heading to the seventh. Though unable to complete the comeback, Akron showed a lot of heart pushing the game to the final pitch, a 3-2, two-out bases loaded strikeout of Tysarczyk to end it, that will give them a boost heading into their next game.
The Racers return to Firestone Stadium Tuesday night for a 7:05 showdown with the 2015 NPF Champion Chicago Bandits and the start of a two-game series. Contact the Akron Racers ticket office at 330-376-8188 or online at www.akronracers.org for ticket information.
About the Dallas Charge:
The Dallas Charge, headquartered in McKinney, TX, began competition in the National Pro Fastpitch league in 2015. The Charge provide elite softball players the opportunity to pursue a professional career and inspire the next generation of professionals. Located in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, the Charge organization and its players are committed to demonstrating leadership in community involvement, entertainment, and professionalism. Follow the Dallas Charge at www.dallascharge.com.
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.
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