Ashley Thomas (Akron Racers) Courtesy of National Pro Fastpitch
AKRON, OH (August 13, 2017) – One day after securing their place in the 2017 NPF Championship Series, the Akron Racers found themselves battling for seeding. Just like last night, it was designated player Sami Fagan delivering the clutch hit, this time a walk-off single to centerfield in the bottom of the eighth inning that scored second baseman Ashley Thomas, when Taylor Gadbois bobbled the ball for Texas (22-28), claiming a 2-1 win for Akron in the regular season finale.
"I'm proud of my girls coming out and sticking it till the end. It's always good to go out on a win, especially on our home field," Racers Field Manager Charlotte Morgan said. “You don't want to lose a game heading into the postseason.
“More than anything it just shows what we can do and what we need to do, so if we get in that spot in the championships we aren't freaking out."
The Racers (26-24) entered Sunday’s action needing a victory paired with the USSSA Pride defeating the Chicago Bandits (25-24) to rise into third place in the final standings. Moments after Akron had won the game, the Pride (40-9) knocked off the Bandits 4-2 in the eighth inning, elevating the Racers.
Thomas started the eighth inning by blasting a double just out of Gadbois’ diving reach. Fagan immediately followed with the game-winning hit.
"We're all feeling good right now. That was a good win and a good couple games we played,” Fagan said. “I think we really feel good because we are just clicking all around right now. It's really giving us momentum going into the playoffs."
Akron won seven of their last nine games to end the regular season.
Akron got on the scoreboard right away, taking a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning. Centerfielder A.J. Andrews and Thomas led off the inning with a pair of singles, with Andrews racing into third base on Thomas’ hit. After Thomas stole second base, Fagan plated Andrews with a sacrifice fly to right fielder Bailey Landry.
Following Akron’s early run, Racer starting pitcher Megan Betsa and Charge pitcher Brittany Mack-Oakes stifled both opposing offenses, piling up zeros on the scoreboard through the sixth inning. Betsa entered the top of the seventh inning having allowed no runs on just two hits, but walked pinch hitters Emily Vincent and Missy Taukeiaho to lead off the final inning. Akron turned to Aimee Creger out of the bullpen. Creger surrendered a one-out RBI single to Gadbois that scored pinch runner Ruby Rivera to tie the game 1-1.
After Texas reliever Kelsee Selman-Rowe worked a scoreless bottom of the seventh, Creger shut down the Charge in the top of the eighth inning to set up Fagan’s hit and earn her second win of the season.
Betsa finished the game throwing six innings, allowing just one run on two hits with seven walks and six strikeouts in the no decision. Creger wasn’t credited with giving up a run in two innings, allowing two hits with two strikeouts.
Mack-Oakes threw five innings and surrendered one run on three hits with three strikeouts. Coley Ries threw two-thirds of an inning in the bottom of the sixth frame before giving way to Selman-Rowe who allowed one unearned run on three hits to take the loss.
The Racers will now meet the second seed Scrap Yard Dawgs (31-18) in the semifinals of the NPF Championship Series beginning Thursday at 9:00 p.m. ET at LSU’s Tiger Park in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Akron and the Dawgs just finished a four-game series this week in which the Racers earned a 2-2 split, the Dawgs won the season series 6-4. All games of the NPF Championship Series will be streamed on NPF TV.
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.