Emily Weiman (Akron Racers) courtesy of National Pro Fastpitch
AKRON, OH (June 21, 2017) – After months of work and numerous renovations to get the field ready for the 2017 NPF season, the Akron Racers broke open the new “Field of Dreams” at Firestone Stadium with an explosive offense on the way to a 12-2 victory over the Beijing Shougang Eagles on Wednesday night.
Akron plated runs in five of the game’s six innings, including 4 home runs in their offensive explosion to open their 11-game home stand. Starting pitcher and Vaultz Player of the Game Emily Weiman was also magnificent in the Racers first home win of the season.
After the Eagles scored in the top of the first inning to take a quick 1-0 lead on an infield single by Xi Kai Lin, the Racers immediately responded, scoring two runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning. Once they took the lead, the Racers never gave it up.
A.J. Andrews scored all the way from second base on a bunt by Ashley Thomas to tie the game. Akron took the lead for good when Shellie Robinson drove in third baseman Kelley Montalvo to make the score 2-1.
After scoring one run in the second inning, Akron really seemed to open the flood gates in the third inning. Robinson cranked a two-run home run over the right-center field wall for the first NPF home run at the newly renovated Firestone Stadium.
“We came out swinging,” Robinson explained. “We were excited, we were up, we were just excited to be home… the home run was definitely a positive.”
Sam Fischer eventually scored after doubling down the left field line, giving the Racers a 6-2 lead after three innings on a double by catcher Griffin Joiner. Akron added four more runs in the fourth inning on the back of home runs by Ashley Thomas and Kelley Montalvo. Thomas hit a two-run blast that also scored Andrews, followed by Montalvo’s solo home run. An RBI single by Sam Fischer capped the inning and made the score 10-2.
After Haley Fagan walked to start the sixth inning, Maddy Grimm promptly brought her home with a two-run bomb to right center for her first hit as a professional, coming on her 22nd birthday.
“Honestly, I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect night for a home opener,” Grimm said. “My family is here, I have a ton of friends here, it’s my birthday… it felt good.
“I was seeing the ball well in warm ups, so I was like ‘Maddy just keep it simple… just stay relaxed.”
Weiman pitched a gem for the Racers, going six innings, striking out eight batters, and allowing only one earned run in her Akron Racers Firestone Stadium debut.
“I was really just excited to be out here,” Weiman said. “It really was an honor to take the field on opening night. I was really excited for that opportunity.”
In regards to her performance, Weiman gave the credit to her teammates.
“I was thinking, ‘just trust my defense.’ I was just trusting my pitches, and my catcher,” Weiman said. “(Joiner) did a great job behind the plate. She really kept me going.”
The entire lineup had Weiman’s back offensively, with contributions coming from nearly every Racer that stepped to the plate. Twelve different players reached base for Akron, with every position player entering the game at some point for the Racers. Joiner went 2-3 with two doubles, A.J. Andrews was 2-3 with a steal and two runs scored, and Robinson was 2-3 with a home run and two runs scored.
“It was so awesome to be back here at Firestone,” Joiner stated. “I know that Joey and the whole crew here in Akron gets ready for this night, and pours their heart and soul into it… I’m glad that we were able to give back, and show all the people that put in work to get ready for tonight that we appreciated it. I’m glad we came out with the win.”
Akron (5-7) will look to carry their excellent play over to tomorrow night’s rematch against the Eagles (0-9) starting once again at 7:05 p.m. at Firestone Stadium. For ticket information contact the Racers box office at 330-376-8188 or visit the team’s website at www.akronracers.org.
* Attendance: 841
* Game Time: 2:08
* Vaults® Lock It Up® Player of the Game: Emily Weiman (Akron Racers)
The Akron Racers, headquartered in Akron, OH, are the oldest existing team in the National Pro Fastpitch (NPF) league. The Racers will celebrate their 16th season of play in 2017. 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.
National Pro Fastpitch (NPF), an Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball since 2004, provides elite female athletes with an opportunity to pursue a professional career in fastpitch softball beyond their collegiate and amateur success. The NPF affiliate teams consist of the Akron Racers, Beijing Shougang Eagles, Chicago Bandits, Scrap Yard Dawgs, Texas Charge and USSSA Florida Pride for the 2017 season. National Pro Fastpitch players hail from the United States, Australia, Canada and China among which are the most accomplished and talented athletes in the sport of women’s softball.