The Racers pitchers were jumped on early, never giving the bats a chance to catch up, and Akron fell to the Chicago Bandits 8-3 on Monday night at Firestone Stadium.
The Bandits shelled Racers starter Hannah Campbell for six runs in less than two innings pitched. In each of those two innings, the first three batters of the inning scored.
The first inning started with two walks followed by a mammoth three-run home run to right field by Chicago’s Brittany Cervantes to make it 3-0.
In the second inning, a double, a single and another home run — this one off the bat of Tammy Williams — made it 6-0 before an out was recorded in the second inning.
A seventh run crossed home plate in the fourth inning on a single by Cervantes. And Bandits shortstop Cheyenne Coyle knocked a solo home run an inning later.
The lone positive for the Racers came in the fourth inning, when left fielder Brianna Cherry hit a two-run home run to left-center field to make it 7-3.
Cherry was down to her last strike in that at-bat, and normally widens her stance in an effort to shoot the ball past the infield. But on this one, she got a hold of it and took it over the fence.
“I was just getting into my two-strike plan and getting ready to battle whatever she threw me,” Cherry said. “Going into this league, it’s trial and error, so it [her approach with two strikes] is something I work on constantly.”
The Racers fell to 2-5 (all against the 5-2 Bandits) and have now dropped five of their last six games after winning the season opener.
Cherry said much of the early season struggles are a result of a team trying to find some chemistry after a year of heavy turnover.
“It’s still early in the season,” she said. “We’re trying to feel each other out. It’s definitely a new team. We’re not trying to rush it or overdo it.”
It isn’t the start to the season the Racers wanted. But field manager Brian Levin’s message to the team after the game was that it’s better to struggle now than later in the season when the team hopes to be making a playoff push.
“Coach Brian said we’d rather face adversity now rather than late,” Cherry said. “Just like when you face adversity in life, it all depends on how you finish and how you take it. We’re taking it in stride and working hard every day.”
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Indians blog at www.ohio.com/indians. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/abj.sports.