Jennifer Gilbert (Akron Racers) courtesy of National Pro Fastpitch
AKRON, OH (June 22, 2017) – Coming off their first home win last night, the Akron Racers showed up determined to defend their home field against the Beijing Shougang Eagles for a second straight night. Despite an early deficit, Akron pulled together and came out with a 2-1 victory for its second straight win.
Contrary to last night’s home opener where offensive fireworks were plenty, Thursday night belonged to the starting pitchers, Akron rookie Megan Betsa (Michigan) and the Eagles’ Li Qui battled it out for most of the night.
Betsa was in control the entire night, allowing only one run, on one hit and three walks, while striking out nine hitters. Betsa earned the Vaultz Lock It Up Player of the Game for her efforts.
“I’d been struggling a little bit, so it felt good,” Betsa commented on the win. “It definitely gives me a little more confidence [going forward].”
As good as Betsa was, Beijing scratched across the first run of the game in the top of the second inning. Second baseman Zhang Yan trickled a ground ball through the left side of the infield and the ball wound up in short left-center field, allowing designated player Nancy Bowling to score from second base to put the Eagles ahead 1-0.
The soft hit ball would be the only damage Beijing could muster against Betsa as only one runner would reach second base after the second inning.
“As long as she can just stay in her zone and work ahead, I think she’s doing great,” Akron Field Manager Charlotte Morgan said about Betsa’s performance. “I mean I’m excited she was able to finally get into a full game and get into a good rhythm.”
Despite Betsa’s performance Akron still found themselves down for most of the night until Jennifer Gilbert (Ball State) stepped to the plate in the bottom of the fourth inning. After a walk from third baseman Kelley Montalvo to place a runner on first, Gilbert gave the Racers the lead by blasting a two-run home run over the right field wall to put Akron ahead 2-1.
“I was just trying to see good pitches and have a good at bat,” Gilbert commented on her home run. “Fighting every at bat, every pitch, every inning… that says a lot about our team.”
That is where the score remained and in the top of the seventh inning Betsa forced Xu Qian Wen to ground out to second baseman Ashley Thomas to secure her first professional victory and first complete game.
“I just challenge the team to come out with some better energy for tomorrow,” said Morgan. “We had two great wins. It’s great to come home and get two wins but were not done yet we have a tough opponent obviously coming with the Pride this weekend, so just come out, regroup and get ready to focus for them.”
The Racers will host the first place USSSA Pride Friday evening with first pitch slated for approximately 7:35 p.m. in the first game of a two-game series. Prior to Akron’s game, Beijing will take on the Pride in a game that will begin at 5:05 p.m. at Firestone Stadium as the first game of a double header. One ticket is good for both games of the double header. Contact the Racers ticket office at 330-376-8188 for more information or to order tickets for either game
* Attendance: 481
* Game Time: 1:46
* Vaultz® Lock It Up® Player of the Game: Megan Betsa (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.