by Dave Daly
Basketball playoffs are finally over, football hasn’t started yet and people don’t seem aware of the fact that professional hockey still exists. It does, it is great and their season is over too. What does this mean? It’s officially baseball season! They may have started playing back in April, but now that it’s July we’re really in the thick of it.
The Rubber Ducks have just about reached the halfway point of their season and are playing great baseball. They currently sit second in their division, three games behind the Altoona Curve. Meanwhile, just a few miles from Canal Park another professional ball club is taking the field at Firestone Stadium. That’s right folks, the Akron Racers are back for the 2017 National Pro Fastpitch season!
Fastpitch is considered the most competitive form of softball. This isn’t your Dad’s Sunday beer league. These women are elite, professional athletes coming from around the world to compete in the NPF. They ball hard.
So let’s just say I was a little bit excited when I saw that the Racers’ home opener was FINALLY happening. After spending what seemed like an eternity on the road (three weeks and 11 away games), the Racers returned to Firestone Stadium where they would host the Beijing Shougang Eagles. Yes, there is a Chinese team in the NPF. No, unfortunately the Racers don’t play any games in Beijing. Otherwise, I’d be on the first plane to China on The Devil Strip’s dime to get some coverage from afar for all my loyal readers!
We arrived at the stadium just in time for the National Anthems. First the Chinese, then the U.S.
I had made a special trip to the box office during my lunch break earlier in the day to ensure we would have tickets for what I anticipated would be a sellout. Alas, there were still seats available by the time we got there, but better safe than sorry. The most affordable ticket option, $7, gets you some premium real estate behind home plate. In addition to the thrifty tickets, the food and beverage prices at Firestone Stadium are super reasonable. And they have Strickland’s ice cream!
As the game began, it was clear that the Racers were excited and ready to be playing at home. The Eagles
got off to a 1-0 lead after the top of the first. They never lead again. The Racers’ bats were lit all game, culminating in four home runs and a 12-2 victory. One of those home runs was hit by third basemen Kelley Montalvo. Montalvo is clearly a team leader. Her enthusiasm on the field is only matched by her energy in the dugout. Watching her cover third base from halfway down the line to home is epic. She is always giving her teammates positive motivation, whether having the pitcher’s back on the field or being the first to lineup for a high-five when someone crosses home plate. She and the rest of the team are totally awesome to watch.
I cannot wait to get back to another Racers’ game and look forward to hopping on my bicycle and taking the towpath down to the connecting Wilbeth Rd bike path, which takes you right to the stadium. Akron might be the only city with two professional ball clubs pretty much right on a major bike route. Just one more reason to love baseball, softball and the city I call home. Don’t be a chump. Go to a Racers Game!
Dave Daly has been pretending to be a sports columnist since 2017. He firmly believes Chief Wahoo is a racist caricature and should be removed from all Indians’ gear.