Akron, Ohio - In a series ruled by pitching and defense, it was fitting that the Akron Racers and Rockford Thunder would save the best performances for last, as the Racers won the series finale 1-0.
Rookie Jamee Juarez (4-1) took to the circle for Akron and was amazing. Juarez faced only three batters in five of her seven innings pitched, and only faced two batters over the minimum for the game. The Racer pitcher surrendered four hits and just two walks while striking out four, in her first shutout of the season.
Juarez didn't do it alone as the Racer defense was stellar all afternoon. Rightfielder Tracee McCoy turned a double play, to end the top of the first, catching a fly ball off the bat of Amanda Freed and throwing to first to retire Jackie Wong before she could tag up.
Then to start the away half of the third, Akron made back to back great defensive plays. Second baseman Veronica Wootson ran back into shallow right centerfield to make a basket catch with her back to home plate. Not to be outdone, Akron centerfielder Iyhia McMichael raced back on a hard hit fly ball and made a running catch just before she got to the fence.
In the bottom of the fourth, shortstop Kristin Johnson chased a pop up into foul ground and made a sliding catch just short of the fence to record the first out of the inning.
In the fifth inning, Juarez decided to get into the act with one out and the speedy Noelle Adams on second base. Thunder batter Amanda Williams smashed a liner right back up the middle, but Juarez calmly stuck her glove out to her left and caught it, taking away a hit that most likely would have scored Adams.
Also, contributing to the great defense was catcher Kristen Butler who managed to throw out three baserunners on the day.
Amanda Freed was almost as good for Rockford as Juarez. She surrendered six hits and hit two batters while striking out two in five innings of work.
The difference maker came in the bottom of the second inning as first baseman Caitlin Benyi laced her first home run on the year to left centerfield giving the Racers the deciding lead of 1-0. The hit also produced Benyi's first RBI. It was the first home run Freed has allowed in three starts this year.
The game was the second win of the series for Akron and the second time the deciding hit was a home run for the Racers.
The Racers head off to our nation's capital to play the Washington Glory next week before coming home to host Team China July 5-8.
For ticket information for the China series or any other Racer home game call (330)376-8188.