AKRON-Through the first four games, Taylor Schlopy is justifying her second overall selection in the 2011 Senior NPF Draft.
The rookie left fielder from the University of Georgia drove in the game-winning run in the eighth inning of a 1-0 thriller at Firestone Stadium Sunday.
On the season, Schlopy is hitting a team-high .462 (6-for-13) with a home run and three runs batted in, none bigger than the one that occurred in the bottom of the eighth inning when Kelley Montalvo hustled to beat out the throw at second base and pinch runner Reba Tutt scored the game winner. Tutt was running for catcher Roya St. Clair, who doubled with one-out to start the rally.
Akron coach Jake Schumann has received a huge lift offensively from the team’s number one pick and has been impressed thus far.
“That’s why she’s was our top pick [in the college draft], Schumann said. “She’s not nervous or shaky at the plate and she’s finding the holes.”
In her second start of the season, Racers pitcher Lisa Norris (1-1, 1.87 ERA) demonstrated why she earned NPF Pitcher of the Year honors last season. Three days after pitching a complete game in a losing effort, Norris buckled down and threw eight innings of shutout softball, allowing just two hits and fanning four Diamonds.
“She had an ‘A-performance” today,” Schumann said. “I told her we were going to play for one run and she said that’s all I need.”
Also bringing an ‘A-performance’ was Diamond starter Megan Gibson, who held the Racers to just three hits and two walks, while striking out four in a complete game effort. In one stretch from the third to the sixth inning, Gibson retired 10 straight Racers.
Norris also received a boost on some nice defensive plays. To lead off the top of the fourth inning, Diamond right fielder Brianna Hesson blasted a shot to center field, that Lisa Modglin jumped at the fence and took out of the air, preventing a run. The Diamonds continued to apply pressure in the fourth inning as a double by Gibson would put runners on second and third base with one out.
Norris buckled down and fanned Rhiannon Kliesing and prompted Loryn Johnson to line out to shortstop Jessica Williams to end the inning.
Coach Shumann was relieved of the victory as his team will make its first road trip of the season.
“It’s more important for our confidence,” he said. “Any time you take a good approach offensively, you have a chance to win. We have to keep improving on offense and defense, and we did that throughout this weekend.”
The Racers will be on the road from next Thursday in Orlando to take on the Diamonds again in a four-game series.