The Connecticut Brakettes returned to their winning form Saturday night in grand fashion. Stephanie Best hit a round tripper with the bases loaded in the second inning to turn a one-run deficit into a 5-2 lead. Jessica Merchant followed suit two batter later with a two-run shot of her own, to extend the lead to 7-2. Merchant, who returned to the lineup after spending the past few days at U.S. Olympic Team tryouts, showed her form again in the fourth. Merchant hit her second two-run homer in the game to dead center, pushing the lead to 9-2. She now has four home runs on the year. Sarah Pauly pitched well again, giving up three runs on five hits, walking two and striking out five. With the win, Pauly moves to 4-0 on the season.
The Racers got things going early in the second, as Amber Hall had a 2-RBI single to give the Racers the 2-0 cushion. Akron has now scored nine runs in the second inning over the last two nights. Unfortunately for the Racers, they couldnt touch Pauly for more runs until the sixth, when the game was out of reach. Trailing 9-2, Akron third baseman Crystl Bustos crushed a solo shot to right center, leaving the Brakette outfielders to stand and watch.
Both teams benefited from the return of many of their stars from the U.S. tryouts in California. Merchant, Kellie Wilkerson, and Kelly Kretschman added much-needed depth and pop to the Brakette lineup, as the Racers welcomed their own home as well. Bustos, catcher Jenny Topping, centerfielder Iyhia McMichael, and pitcher Jamie Southern had also spent the last few days at the tryouts.
The last game of the four-game series will be played Sunday afternoon at 5:05 at DeLuca HOF Field in Stratford, CT. With the win, the Brakettes improve to 7-1, while the Akron loss drops the Racers to 6-4.