The USSSA Pride split a doubleheader with the Akron Racers Saturday night at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, ending their home stretch with a loss, but taking the series against the Racers 3-1.
The Pride won the first game of the doubleheader handily, defeating the Racers 6-2.
Things looked grim for the Pride (23-12) to start. Racers (14-22) leftfielder Taylor Schlopy doubled early in the first inning on an error by Pride shortstop Natasha Watley. Sam Marder followed her up with a sacrifice fly, putting Schlopy in easy scoring position on third base. The Pride’s defense pulled through, though, ending the inning before the Racers could score.
The Pride took the opportunity to take the lead in the bottom of the first. Watley walked to start the inning, followed by a single by Caitlin Lowe. Jessica Mendoza was called out at first, but allowed Watley and Lowe to advance. Kaitlyn Sandberg then made it to first on a Racers error, which allowed Watley to score. Charlotte Morgan brought Morgan home to give the Pride a 2-0 lead at the end of the first.
The game remained uneventful until the end of the third inning, when Lowe scored on a Mendoza single, bringing the Pride lead to 3-0. Megan Willis hit a deep homerun to centerfield in the bottom of the fourth to extend the Pride lead to 4-0.
The offensive showing by the Pride continued in the fifth inning, where the Pride put up two more runs to make the score a decisive 6-0, Pride.
The Racers were not willing to give up that easily, however, and attempted a comeback in the sixth inning. Marder singled, followed by teammate Brianna Hesson, who reached base on an error. Both players would score, bring the game to 6-2. The Racers weren’t able to close the gap in the seventh, and the Pride would go on to win the first game.
Pride pitcher Danielle Lawrie (6-2) got the win in her complete game, allowing six hits and two runs and striking out four. Racers pitcher Kristina Thorson (4-5) allowed eight hits, six runs and struck out four before being replaced by teammate Erin Arevalo in the fifth inning.
Game two of the doubleheader, and the Pride’s last home game of the season, started off eerily like the first, with the Racers getting on base early due to an error by the shortstop, this time Jenn Salling, rather than Natasha Watley. The Racers runner, Lisa Modglin, then stole second and was eventually batted in by Marder to give the Racers an early 1-0 lead. The Pride defense prevented the game from getting away from them, though, and made it out of the inning with minimal damage.
The game remained quiet until the third inning, when Marder hit a homerun to make the score 2-0 Racers. The Pride’s offense finally kicked in during the third inning, as well. Jenn Salling started a rally with two outs and scored on a Ashley Charters single to make the score 2-1. Mendoza couldn’t come through with two players in scoring position, striking out and ending the inning. Mendoza found herself in a similar position in the bottom of the fifth, with two runners on and two outs, and once again failed to capitalize on the situation, striking out again.
The Racers scored again in the sixth inning, when Aja Paculba hit a RBI single to bring in Nicole Trimboli to make the score 3-1 Racers. Nicole Pauly scored on the next play, giving the Racers a 4-1 lead. The Pride then brought in Cat Osterman to replace Brittany Mack as pitcher.
Alicia Herron scored another run for the Racers in the seventh inning, running home on a wild pitch by Osterman, giving the Racers a 5-1 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh.
The Pride were unable to do anything offensively in the seventh, and lost to the Racers 5-1.
Pride pitcher Mack (5-4) allowed five hits and four runs and struck out two before being replaced by Osterman in the sixth inning.
Racers pitcher Hillary Bach (5-6) allowed six hits and one run and struck out five in the win.
The Pride now travel to Raleigh, N.C., for a four-game series against the Carolina Diamonds.
Click here for box score of game one.
Click here for box score of game two.
About National Pro Fastpitch:
National Pro Fastpitch is headquartered in Nashville, TN. The league, created to give elite female fastpitch players the opportunity to pursue a professional career in their chosen sport, has operated since 1997 under the names of Women’s Pro Fastpitch (WPF) and Women’s Pro Softball League (WPSL). NPF is the Official Development Partner of Major League Baseball in the category of women’s fastpitch softball since 2002.
Photo By: Dina Kwit