The Akron Racers had it all working Friday night.
Hitting, pitching — and yes, defense, too. Make that big check marks for all three phases as the Racers enjoyed an 11-0 romp over the visiting New York/New Jersey Comets at Firestone Stadium in a National Pro Fastpitch game.
The weather was ideal for a change, too. Perfect for taking out some frustrations as Akron (8-13) won its second in a row following a seven-game losing streak.
Four runs in the first inning turned out to be plenty for rookie right-hander Ivy Renfroe (2-4) from the University of Tennessee, who allowed just three hits in spinning her first professional shutout. The Racers continued to pile on, though, pounding out 10 hits and scoring in all but one inning.
“We came up with the big hits,” said Racers coach Ryan Phillips. “We had some huge defensive plays. Brigette [Del Ponte] over there at third base, I don’t know how many great plays she made. Tess Sito comes up with the diving catch that could have scored at least two with two outs [in the fifth]. We had a good day all the way around.”
Akron has dominated the Comets (3-19) thus far, winning all six games in the series. They meet twice today, at 3 p.m. in a makeup of Wednesday’s rainout, and also at 7:05 p.m. One admission charge is good for both. The Racers won 1-0 Thursday.
Of course, they remain far behind the top two teams, the Chicago Bandits and USSSA Pride. The Racers trailed Chicago by nine games in the four-team league before Friday.
“It’s tough, man,” said Renfroe, who struck out seven and walked three. “These hitters, all of them, are so good. Thanks to my defense, they played awesome tonight.”
She relied on mostly fastballs and change-ups, she said, and “maybe a couple riseballs.”
Sam Marder, in her third season with the Racers out of Ohio State, greeted reliever Lindsey Richardson with a three-run home run — her second — on a full-count pitch for a 9-0 lead in the fourth. She also had a bases-loaded walk in the first, and walked again in the third.
“It’s always difficult to come in when you haven’t seen a pitcher before,” said Marder. “I was just trying to see something deep and stay smooth through it and finally got a pitch to hit.”
Del Ponte, a rookie from the University of Arizona, also smacked a long home run to left for the final run in the sixth. She also had a sacrifice fly in the first inning.
Left fielder Brianna Turang, the leadoff hitter, had three hits and scored twice. First baseman Charlotte Morgan singled twice and drove in two runs. Catcher Kaylyn Castillo walked in all four at-bats and scored twice. Sito, a rookie second baseman from the University of Georgia, added two RBI.