Rachele Fico threw a one-hit gem and received some outstanding defense behind her, and the Racers took down the Chicago Bandits 4-0 in the season opener at Firestone Stadium.
Fico (1-0) threw seven shutout innings, struck out seven and retired the final 19 batters. Chicago (1-1) had a single and a walk in the first inning. A Bandit did not reach base after that.
“That was a complete team effort,” said Fico, last year’s No. 1 overall selection. “We have a lot of energy, a lot of heart, a lot of fight. Everyone believes we’re capable of so much.”
Four of the final six outs for the Racers (1-0) turned out to be highlight-reel plays. In the sixth inning, third baseman Kelley Montalvo made a leaping catch and another grab over the Bandits’ dugout railing on back-to-back plays.
In the seventh inning, right fielder Jennifer Gilbert robbed Chicago’s Brittany Cervantes of a home run with a catch that would stand a reasonable chance of topping SportsCenter’s top plays. Racing back, she reached up, caught the ball in stride and then hung on as she tumbled over the fence.
Two plays later, left fielder Brianna Cherry outdid Gilbert. Cherry took a home run away from Chicago’s RT Cantillo by leaping over the fence and grabbing the ball as she did.
“It’s really comforting knowing my team has my back and they’ll make those plays,” Fico said. “They really had my back.”
Catcher Jessica Garcia and outfielder Taylor Schlopy each belted solo home runs. Charlotte Morgan (3-for-3) added an RBI-single, and shortstop Nerissa Myers doubled home a run.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/abj.sports.