Jailyn Ford (Akron Racers) courtesy of National Pro Fastpitch
AKRON, OH (June 25, 2017) -- For their third game of the season against the Beijing Shougang Eagles, the Akron Racers were eager to defend a perfect record against the Eagles. With a powerful offensive performance, the Racers (7-8) were able to protect their home field with a 15-2 win over the Beijing.
An offensive fight in the bottom of the fourth inning paved the path for the Racers’ victory in their final game of the series against the Eagles. A strong inning for the Eagles (0-12) started with a hard hit single up the middle by Beijing’s first baseman Zhang Hui Yao, followed by a line drive single over the head of Racers’ short stop Ashley Thomas to score Yao. In the next at-bat, Eagle’s short stop Liu Li Li tripled with a shot down third base line, past the Racers’ third baseman and left fielder, to score a run and tie the game 2-2.
The Racers matched the Eagles in the bottom of the fourth inning. With a single from short stop Sami Fagan, followed by a single from right fielder Shellie Robinson, the Racers put pressure on the Eagles early on. With runners on first and second base, a clutch double from designated player and Vaultz Player of the Game Jennifer Gilbert scored two more for the Racers and gave them the 4-2 lead.
“Not doing anything special,” commented Gilbert on her performance at the plate. “Just staying within myself and trying to put a good swing on it.”
Akron broke out in the bottom of the sixth inning as eight different players scored to contribute to a 10-run inning. Gilbert led off with a double and pinch hitter Maddy Grimm kept a hot bat at Firestone Stadium with a double to bring home Gilbert. Kristen Wyckoff plated Grimm with a single and used her speed to come around to score on the next at bat on a base hit by Megan Geer.
After a pair of walks, Hannah Day delivered with the bases loaded, scoring Geer and Ashley Thomas. Grimm came up for the second time in the inning two batters later and again with the bases loaded the Racers came through. Grimm blasted a grand slam over the centerfield wall to cap the inning and give the Racers a 15-2 lead.
“I felt great,” said Field Manager Charlotte Morgan about the Racers’ offense. “I challenge them to respond through the whole game and it was exciting to see some of our kids off the bench came out with that same energy, so they made way better adjustments at the plate.”
Before the bats picked up, Racer’s Thomas and Robinson were able to come up with big hits to get their team started. A solo homerun by Thomas in the bottom of the first put the Racers on the board early. Feeding off of the team’s momentum, Robinson was able to knock one over the left-center wall for her fourth homerun of the season. Those would stand as the only hits until the fourth inning.
“I was more excited that I got my team going, that I could start us off and start the energy off right,” said Thomas about her homerun. “They were all really excited and I love having this team behind me.”
Although the offense was powerful, the performance from the circle for the Racers does not go uncredited in today’s win. To start the game, pitcher Jailyn Ford came out with control to hold the Eagles to two runs during her four innings pitched. In relief of Ford, pitcher Alexis Silkwood entered the game and allowed no hits.
In the top of the sixth, closing pitcher Aimee Creger stepped onto the field to defend the Racers’ lead. With consecutive strikeouts, Creger was able to retire the first three batters faced from the Eagles. Named the saving pitcher of the game, she managed to strikeout five out of the total seven batters she faced.
“You never know when your last game is going to be… I tell myself to go out and throw every inning like it’s my last,” said Creger on her mentality heading into the circle.
On Tuesday at 7:05 p.m., the Racers will begin their three-game, home series against the Chicago Bandits at Firestone Stadium. For more information or to order tickets, contact the Racers ticket office at (330) 376-8188.
* Game Time: 2:14
* Vaultz® Lock It Up® Player of the Game: Jennifer Gilbert (Akron Racers)
About the 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.