The Akron Zips softball team (14-11, 2-2) split both series with the Miami Red Hawks (15-11, 1-1) and Ball State Cardinals (22-14, 3-1) this past weekend at Lee Jackson Field.
“The Akron Zips softball team (14-11, 2-2) split both series with the Miami Red Hawks (15-11, 1-1) and Ball State Cardinals (22-14, 3-1) this past weekend at Lee Jackson Field.
In the home opener on Friday, the Zips were fooled by Jessica Simpson. No, this is not a late April Fool’s joke – Simpson, the pitcher for the Red Hawks, fanned seven Akron batters, allowed just two hits and pitched a complete game shutout.
If you put one up on the board, it sort of changes the momentum of the game, and we weren’t able to do that, Akron Head Coach Julie Jones said of the Zips, who fell 4-0.
However, Akron rebounded in the second game of the doubleheader by putting up a three-spot in the first inning. With runners on the corners, Alissa Birkhimer proceeded to steal second base and was caught in a rundown, but Katie Gross took off for home in the process. Miami tried to throw Gross out at the plate, but she slid in well ahead of the tag and Birkhimer took second. Heather Bauer and Sarah Earley then smacked doubles to drive in two more runs, giving the Zips a 3-0 cushion.
That would be all the padding they needed, as Alex Riedeman pitched a complete game shutout without striking out or walking a single Red Hawk.
I thought her drop-ball was outstanding. She got some people on some change-ups. We played some pretty good defense, and I was very pleased, Jones said of the Zips’ ability to shut down the Red Hawks, who stranded six on base.
Earley made back-to-back defensive plays during a bases loaded jam in fifth. The Zips’ bats remained silent the rest of the game, but Akron still won 3-0.
Akron suffered a beating from the defending MAC Champion Ball State Cardinals on Saturday. The Cardinals broke the game open with a four-run third inning and continued to tack on insurance. The Zips’ only sign of life came in their final at-bat when Sarah Stromack clobbered a double down the left field line that brought home Cassie Gleisner.
On Sunday, the Zips held an early Senior Day to honor Bauer, Earley, Alex Feltes, Olivia Hegedus, Alex Riedeman, and Stromack for their dedication to the program. Jones commended her first recruiting class:
They are not only great players, but they are great kids, and that’s really what we are looking for to build this program.
Despite the honors, the Zips still left five runners on base through four innings and Feltes missed a home run by inches in the fifth. However, Gross followed Feltes and slugged a two-out solo home run to center field that gave Akron the lead by the slimmest of margins. Both Gross and Earley led the team with two hits each for the game.
On the mound, Riedeman hurled her second straight complete game shutout and didn’t walk a single batter.
It was a great game; we were very excited, Jones said, reflecting on the victory. Any time you can beat the best team in the league, you know you’re in for a great year.
The Zips will host St. Francis (PA) in a doubleheader at Lee Jackson Field on Tuesday at 3 and 5 p.m.