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Vandergeest, Racers launch past Pride to tie the series

Vandergeest, Racers launch past Pride to tie the series
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Sulphur, La. - Facing elimination, the Akron Racers (1-1) stepped onto the diamond with a purpose Friday night -- save themselves from being bounced in the first round of the 2010 National Pro Fastpitch Championship playoffs by the USSSA Florida Pride (1-1).

With Sharonda McDonald on third base and no outs, Akron’s Crystl Bustos smacked a hard grounder up the middle. Pride shortstop Natasha Watley misplayed the ball, scoring McDonald for the 3-2 lead.

The Pride would threaten, but Jamee Juarez and the Racers sealed the deal, pushing the best of three game series to the final game, Saturday morning at 11 a.m.

With runners on first and second in the bottom of the second inning, Florida short stop Natasha Watley blasted a double to right field, scoring Megan Willis from second base for an early 1-0 lead.

With a runner on third in the top of the third inning, Akron’s Jess Valis smacked a hard grounder to second base, scoring Jackie Pasquerella to put the Racers on the board.

On the opposite side, the Pride answered right back with a triple by Kelly Kretschman. She came home to score just one batter later when an error by Akron’s Bures allowed Jessica Mendoza to reach base safely, putting the Pride up 2-1.

Akron’s Mackenzie Vandergeest made things interesting in the top of the fifth when she blasted a 1-1 pitch from Pauly over the right field fence to tie the game at 2-2.

With the score stalled at two, USSSA brought in Cat Osterman to pitch. Samantha Ricketts blasted an 0-1 pitch deep to right field for a lead off double. One pitch and a past ball later, pinch runner Sharonda McDonald waited at third base in hopes that Crystl Bustos would knock her in.

She did just that with a hard grounder up the middle that was misplayed by Watley, allowing McDonald to score the go ahead run for a 3-2 lead.

Juarez finished out the game in the circle for the Racers, earning the complete game victory and sending the best of three series to the final game Saturday morning at 11 am. Cat Osterman earned the loss in relief for the Pride.

Running Racers: Micaela Miner crashed hard into the right field wall in the top bottom of the second inning. After an extensive delay, Miner was carried off the field. From the press box it appeared that she severely hurt her right knee or leg. No official word was given at time of recap publication.