SoftballCenter.com's family trip to the NPF game
Akron Racer's vs USSSA Pride
Friday, July 1st
The Akron Racer's wore the red tops with black pants. Akron's mascot entertains the fans
The Weiser family headed to the Friday night women's pro fastpitch game held at Firestone stadium in Akron, Ohio. The game matched the hometown Akron Racers against the 2010 defending NPF Champions USSSA Pride from Florida. My daughters are now playing travel ball so this trip was very interesting and was the first pro fastpitch game that we have been to.
The USSSA Pride wore the red, white, and blue uniforms
I had the crowd estimated between 900-1100 fans and they did get loud at times
The game was the 2nd in a series of 4 games in 4 days played between the two teams. The Pride had won the first game on Thursday night 2-0 when pitcher Danielle Lawrie held the Racer's to just one hit and DH Alissa Haber hit a homerun.
Friday's game featured perfect summer weather and began with a well sung National Anthem and player introductions. Then the game began with a pitching dual between the Prides star pitcher Cat Osterman and Akron's Kristina Thorson. Thorson ended the first 2 Pride at bats with impressive strikeouts and overall she outpitched Osterman. Osterman meanwhile worked out of a bases loaded jam in the 3rd to keep things scoreless through 3 innings.
The first pitch of the game from Akron's Kristina Thorson to Pride leadoff hitter Natasha Watley
In the bottom of the 4th, the Akron Racers Nicole Trimboli started things off with an infield chopper between the pitcher, 2nd baseman, and 1st baseman which was ruled an infield single. Then Nicole Pauly hit a grounder deep in the hole between shortstop and 3rd base and Pride SS Natash Watley, showing great range, backhanded it but her off balance throw went into right field and Trimboli advanced all the way to 3rd. Then Kelly Montalvo walked to load the bases, setting up the most important at bat of the night. Akron's rookie catcher Sam Marder stood in against a slightly rattled Osterman and the battle was on. Ostermans first two pitches to Marder were high fastballs that the rookie couldn't catch up to. Then Marder laid off 3 straight balls including one that was a borderline strike. With the count full Marder launched a long foul ball deep over the bleachers and then fouled another pitch past 3rd base. With the count still full, Marder lined a base hit that scored 2 runs and the crowd, which I counted at about 1,000 roared as Akron took a 2-0 lead. Osterman then refocused and struck out the next two batters.
Both teams went 1-2-3 in the 5th.
In the 6th the Prides Francesca Enea walked to start the inning. Then after a fielder's choice, Alissa Haber smashed a double to left center field putting runners at 2nd and 3rd with one out. Jessica Mendoza then hit a sacrifice fly to close the lead to 2-1. With 2 outs and a runner on 2nd Charlotte Morgan hit a sharp grounder down the third base line that looked like it would cross the bag and roll into the corner for a run tying double, but Akron 3rd baseman Kelley Montalvo, with cat like quickness dove, snatched the ball off the line and made a perfect throw to first for the 3rd out and preserved the one run lead.
In the 7th, the Prides Kelly Kretschman lead things off with a single and was pinch run for by Kelsey Bruder. Then Akron's pitcher Kristina Thorson made a great diving catch of a short popup between the pitchers mound and homeplate for out number one. Bruder then advanced to second on a fielders choice 4-3 and took 3rd on a passed ball. With 2 outs and the tying run on 3rd, Kaitlin Lowe flew out to center field to end the game.
Akron's pitcher Kristina Thorson after making a great diving catch
Akron celebrates their only victory of the weekend
This would be Akron's only win of the 4 game series as they dropped 7-4 on Saturday and 5-0 on Sunday to the Pride.
Current National Pro Fastpitch Standings
W L PCT GB STREAK LAST 10
Chicago Bandits 11 5 0.688 - 4W 8-2
USSSA Pride 9 7 0.563 2 2W 6-4
Akron Racers 8 8 0.500 3 2L 5-5
NPF Diamonds 4 12 0.250 7 5L 1-9
The Weiser family at the ballgame
Overall I found the game to be entertaining. The kids got to try and catch and keep foul balls. Both teams signed a bunch of autographs for the fans after the game. The game had lots of strategy with pinch hitters, runners, and bunt attempts to advance runners. There were 5 long fly balls that just barely stayed in the park (fences seemed to be set at about 225 feet by my estimation) and overall the family enjoyed the game.
USSSA Pride team members sign autographs for the fans after the game
Both teams had center fielders that could go get it
Prides Cat Osterman ices down but still signs autographs
DW's daughters with a Pride player getting autographs