Kelly Kretschman Photo by Sabrina Saunders Courtesy of National Pro Fastpitch
Kissimmee, FL (July 25, 2016) — It seemed like the series finale between the USSSA Pride and the Akron Racers might go all night. The contest ended in the eighth inning when Kelly Kretschman sent a walk-off home run deep over the center field fence to make the score 5-2 and carry the Pride to their 25th win of the season.
The Racers struck early and fast, scoring two runs on three consecutive base hits in the first inning. The Pride struck back with a messy but effective half-inning, scoring two runs on two base hits and two errors. Lauren Chamberlain (3-2) knocked in the first run. The second run scored on an error on an infield pop fly.
The two teams seemed to be in a deadlock for the rest of the game. The Pride forced six consecutive innings in which Racers batters went down in order. Meanwhile, the Racers allowed a base runner in every inning of the contest but kept the Pride offense from capitalizing on anything until the eighth.
The Akron pitching staff kept the meat of the Pride lineup at bay for most of the game. The top four batters for the Pride—a usually reliable bunch made of Megan Wiggins, Kretschman, Shelby Pendley and Hallie Wilson—went a combined 2-13. The rest of the Pride’s tough lineup went a combined 4-16.
Although it was not necessary in the end, consecutive walks from Courtney Ceo and Wiggins gave Kretschman a perfect opportunity to pick up the winning run for the Pride. Hitting a walk-off home run wasn’t her original plan, though.
“Well I was going to bunt. But I just knew [pitcher Aimee Creger] wasn’t throwing that outside pitch for a strike, so I just kind of guessed that she was going to come in and I swung as hard as I could,” Kretschman said.
Pitchers for both teams brought their best stuff for the series finale. Chelsea Thomas—the starter for the Pride—gave up two runs in the first, but shut down Akron for the following four innings. She gave up six hits, but walked none and struck out one, setting things up for reliever Keilani Ricketts.
Ricketts faced nine batters and allowed no base runners, striking out three in three innings pitched. She picked up the win, holding the Racers and allowing the Pride to take advantage of the lack of scoring from the opposition.
The Pride return to action on Wednesday, July 27, as they take on the Dallas Charge in a double-header in McKinney, TX.
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 USSSA Florida Pride:
The USSSA Florida Pride is a professional franchise in the National Pro Fastpitch League that is owned and operated by USSSA. The amateur organization of USSSA has multi-sport coverage and encompasses teams and players from the United States and abroad.
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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