Akron, Ohio - Often when a game has a lot of hype and expectations it fails to meet those standards.
Thursday's opener between the Akron Racers and the Rockford Thunder was the
exception to the rule. When two U.S. National pitchers go head to head it should be a low scoring affair and that's exactly what it was, as the Racers (8-1) and Alicia Hollowell edged out the Thunder (12-5) and Cat Osterman 2-1.
Shortstop Jackie Wong got the Thunder going early with a chopper to Hollowell (1-0) in the top of the first that she beat out for a single. Two batters later, Mackenzie Vandergeest laced a double to left center plating Wong. The run gave the Thunder the early 1-0 lead.
That was all the offense that Rockford (12-5) could muster as Hollowell silenced
their bats allowing only one single and two free passes the last six innings of the
game. Most of the night Hollowell wouldn't even let the Thunder make contact
striking out 12 batters, including five out of her last nine hitters, in her NPF debut.
As good as Hollowell was it looked like the NPF's leader in strike outs and ERA,
Osterman (2-3), was going to be just a little bit better. The Thunder pitcher carried a two hit shut out into the bottom of the sixth.
Then the Racers heart of the lineup broke through. With two outs Osterman gave up her third walk of the night to Racer center fielder Iyhia McMichael. The very next batter was Kristen Butler, and Butler made Osterman pay for the two out walk. Butler laid into an Osterman offering and absolutely crushed a home run to dead center field giving the Racers the deciding 2-1 lead.
Despite the home run, Osterman managed to pitch a great game going the full six
innnings with four hits and four walks. She managed to strike out 11 batters on the night, including a stretch of seven out of ten batters.
The Thunder and Racers will go back at it tomorrow night at the regular start time
of 7:05 for game two of this four game series.
For ticket information please contact the Akron Racers at (330) 376-8188.