Nicholson NPF Blog #9: Down the Stretch They Come!
Former ISU pitcher Shannon Nicholson
Former ISU pitcher Shannon Nicholson

July 28, 2008

AKRON, Ohio - Hi there Redbird and Racer fans and welcome back to this week's blog from the National Pro Fastpitch league. This was one exciting week for us Akron Racers, as we played the USA Olympic Team last week and traveled back to Illinois to play the Rockford Thunder.

Team USA came into Akron as part of its "Bound for Beijing Tour." The USA Olympic Team has been playing all spring and summer, traveling to play teams in exhibition games before heading to the Olympics. Its only loss on the tour came against Virginia Tech this spring, when Angela Tincher threw a no-hitter against the U.S. to pick up the win. Tincher is now a Racer, and so the game was quite a rematch. We had a sold out crowd, and people were fighting for anywhere to stand around the fences to watch. The game lived up to its hype, as it was a close game until the very end.

Nicholson's NPF Web site | Akron Racers

In the first inning, our catcher, Kristin Butler, launched a home run to give us a 2-0 lead. After three innings, Tincher left the game with us still leading, 2-1. Heading in to the seventh inning, the game was tied at 2-2, and it was starting to seem like we actually had a chance to upset the Olympians. However, that feeling was shortly lived, as some big hits and a home run knocked us out of the game and we lost, 6-2. The whole night was quite the experience, and even though I looked awful striking out against Monica Abbot on three-straight rise balls, I still had a blast that night. For six innings, we competed right up there with the best in the world.

After the game, we had to head straight back to the apartments to pack. We left a few hours later on a bus to go to Rockford, Ill., for a four-game series. When we got to Rockford, we found out that its home field had been under reconstruction due to the flooding this summer. The field we had been moved to was home to area summer-league teams, and it was a complete turn-around from the atmosphere we had just come from. One night before, we were playing in front of thousands of fans, and now, we were playing next to a little league game.

The series was full of ups and downs, and we ended up splitting the series, 2-2. For me, I was excited to be back in Illinois. It had seemed like forever since I had got to see some familiar faces, and I got to see some family, friends and even old teammates.

The pitching went well last week, and it was good to be back in my home state. However, we did not gain any ground in the standings and are still sitting in fourth place. Four teams make the playoffs, so we would like to secure a spot by moving a little higher in the standings.

This week, the Rockford Thunder will be traveling out to Akron, Ohio, for a rematch, as we host them for four games. No spot has been secured, and the standings are very close. Each game seems to be critical, and I'm sure it will all come down to the wire to see how the rankings finish out. Be sure to check back next week, and until then, Go `Birds and Racers!

- Shannon Nicholson #19