AKRON, OH, (July 27, 2016) – The Akron Racers returned home to Firestone Stadium Wednesday evening after a three-game road trip in search of something to change the team’s fortunes. The Racers found what they were looking for in a dominating performance by rookie pitcher Jailyn Ford (James Madison), who led the team to a 1-0 shutout victory over the visiting Chicago Bandits.
Ford threw a complete game, allowing only two hits while striking out eight Chicago (17-21) hitters. She extended her team lead with her ninth victory, fifth complete game, second shutout and now has 64 strikeouts on the season.
“We utilized a big strike zone both offensively and defensively,” Ford said. “So out there on the mound I was trying to work wide and get the calls when need be.”
The Bandits could not solve Ford’s performance and were held to zero after zero on the scoreboard, giving Akron (20-18) the time it needed offensively to break through against Chicago starting pitcher Shelby Turnier, who was nearly as effective throughout most of the game.
Turnier held the Racers to three hits and no runs through the first five innings, retiring nine of 10 hitters leading into the bottom of the sixth inning. Akron designated player Ashley Thomas (Georgia Tech) led off the bottom of the sixth inning and blasted a laser shot over a leaping effort by Bandits left fielder Danielle Zymkowitz and over the fence for a home run and the 1-0 lead. That would be all the Racers needed on the night.
Turnier allowed one run on five hits in six innings of work, while striking out eight Racer batters.
The home run was Akron’s NPF-leading 46th of the season and broke a drought of three games without a home run. The blast also continued a torrid pace by Thomas, who is 12-for-24 in her past eight games over the past 10 days and was the ninth extra base hit of the season, a personal best for her three-year career.
"I just wanted to get something going for the team, get some excitement in the dugout and get on base somehow," Thomas said. "I was seeing her good all night so that really helped.
"It's always exciting to see your team get that excited. It was great."
Following the home run, Ford slammed the door shut on Chicago in order by getting pinch hitter Tatum Edwards to swing and miss at strike three, forcing right fielder Natalie Hernandez to fly out to left fielder Shellie Robinson (South Carolina-Upstate) and retiring shortstop Jill Barrett on a bunt attempt that Akron third baseman Kelley Montalvo (Alabama) fielded smoothly before throwing to first base.
The victory snapped a season-high six-game losing streak for the Racers, who maintain their place in third place in the NPF standings in the thick of the chase for one of four spots in the NPF Championship Series this August.
"It was really important (to get back on track with a win)," Thomas said. "You're not good constantly all the time because it's a failure sport. To get back on track with how we play the game, it was a good win."
The Racers will welcome the Bandits back to Firestone Stadium Thursday evening for the second game of their three-game series with first pitch at 7:05 p.m. For ticket information contact the Racers box office at 330-376-8188.
About the Chicago Bandits:
Since 2005, the Chicago Bandits have been members of the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) league. Located in Rosemont, the Bandits provide an opportunity for female fastpitch players to further their careers at a professional level, and the roster has included such names as Jennie Finch, Stacy May-Johnson, Emily Allard and Tammy Williams. The three-time NPF Champions, who are owned by Bill Sokolis, play at The Ballpark at Rosemont, the only stadium in the country built for a women’s professional team. The 2016 season will be the Bandits’ 12th season in the NPF.
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.