[26-28 OVERALL, 12-12 MAC (4th East)]
at 2017 Mid-American Conference Championship
Firestone Stadium • Akron, Ohio
Wednesday, May 13
Game 1: #4 Kent State vs. #5 Ball State, 10:30 a.m.
Game 2: #1 Central Michigan vs. #8 Western Michigan, 1 p.m.
Game 3: #2 Ohio vs. #7 AKRON, 3:30 p.m.
Game 4: #3 Northern Illinois vs. #6 Miami, 6 p.m.
Thursday, May 11
Game 5: Game 1 loser vs. Games 2 loser • 10:30 a.m.
Game 6: Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner • 1 p.m.
Game 7: Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner • 3:30 p.m.
Game 8: Game 3 loser vs. Game 4 loser • 6 p.m.
Friday, May 12
Game 9: Game 5 winner vs. Game 7 loser • 10:30 a.m.
Game 10: Game 8 winner vs. Game 6 loser • 1 p.m.
Game 11: SEMIFINAL: Winners from Games 6 & 7 • 3:30 p.m.
Game 12: Winners from Games 9 & 10 • 6 p.m.
Saturday, May 13
Game 13: Game 11 loser vs. Game 12 winner • 10:30 a.m.
Game 14: CHAMPIONSHIP: Winners from Games 11 & 13 • 1 p.m.
Game 15*: Game 14 rematch • 30 min. following conclusion of game 14
* if necessary
The Akron Zips earned the No. 7 seed for the 2017 Mid-American Conference Softball Championship, to be held May 10-13 at Firestone Stadium in Akron. The Zips will face No. 2 seed Ohio on Wednesday, May 10, at 3:30 p.m. in the double elimination tournament. Tickets will be sold at Firestone Stadium only.
The winner advances to a 3:30 p.m. game on Thursday, May 11, while the loser plays at 6 p.m. The complete schedule is listed above. The championship game is slated for Saturday, May 13, at 1 p.m.
Live stats and videostreams for all games will be available on www.MAC-Sports.com.
MEET THE ZIPS
The Akron Zips, under the guidance of 11th-year head coach Julie Jones, stand 26-28 overall and finished MAC play at 12-12 (4th in the East) after going 1-2 on the road last week. The Zips return 10 letterwinners, including four starters. UA welcomes four freshmen.
After 55 contests, junior OF Ashley Sims (Brooksville, Fla.) is the Zips' top hitter, batting .370 with 61 hits, 33 runs, and a MAC-best 42 stolen bases. Senior OF Savannah Fruin (Delray Beach, Fla.) follows at .318 with a team-best 43 RBI, 48 hits, 12 doubles, a triple, and 10 home runs.
In the circle, freshman lefty Lexie Handley (Mogadore, Ohio) has a 2.30 ERA. She stands 19-15 overall, throwing a MAC-high 210.1 innings with 173 strikeouts and 86 walks.
Junior Kooper Vertz (Dilsboro, Ind.) is 5-5 overall with a 3.14 ERA. She has pitched 62.1 innings with 28 strikeouts and 29 walks.
MAC TOURNEY HISTORY
Akron participates in its fourth consecutive (and 12th overall) MAC Tournament. Last season, the then-No. 6 seeded Zips played three games (complete history is on p. 8). UA owns a 10-22 MAC tourney record. The Zips' highest seed was No. 3 in 2014.
SCOUTING #2 SEED OHIO
The Bobcats, under seventh-year head coach Jodi Hermanek, finished the regular season at 36-14 overall and first in the MAC East with a 17-7 mark. Junior IF Mikayla Cooper is the leading hitter, batting .358 with 16 doubles and 25 RBI. In the circle, senior Savannah Jo Dorsey has thrown 187.1 innings, fanning a MAC-best 298 batters and walking 60. She stands 20-6 overall with a 1.23 ERA.
SERIES VS. OHIO
In series action, Akron and Ohio have met 87 times with UA holding a 63-24 all-time series advantage. In MAC games only, the Zips hold a 48-24 series edge. On April 14-15, UA took two games of the three-game series. The Zips and Bobcats faced each other in the opening round of the 2016 MAC Championship. The #6 seed Zips fell to the #3 seed Ohio, 3-1. Akron is 2-1 against Ohio in MAC tourney play.
SCOUTING #1 SEED CENTRAL MICHIGAN
The Chippewas, under 38th-year head coach and MAC Coach of the Year Margo Jonker, finished the regular season at 36-13 overall and first in the MAC West with a 18-5 mark. Sophomore OF Allison Curtis is the Chippewa's top hitter, batting .394 with 63 hits and 20 RBI. In the circle, senior Rachael Knapp, the MAC Pitcher of the Year, is 21-8 overall with a 1.39 ERA. She's tossed 206.0 innings, fanning 235 and walking 53.
SERIES VS. CENTRAL MICHIGAN
In series action, Akron and Central Michigan have met 57 times with the Chippewas holding a 37-20 advantage over the Zips. In MAC games only, CMU holds a 32-18 edge over Akron. On April 8-9, Central Michigan won the first two games of the three-game series. In MAC tourney play, the teams have met five times with CMU claiming all five wins.
SCOUTING #3 SEED NORTHERN ILLINOIS
The Huskies, under fifth-year head coach Christina Sutcliffe, finished the regular season at 30-19 overall and second in the MAC West with a 15-9 mark. Senior 1B Kayti Grable is the Huskies' top hitter, batting .389 with 58 hits and 41 RBI. In the circle, freshman Alex Frenz has a 3.36 ERA and a 34-18 record. She's thrown 123.0 innings, striking out 59 and walking 36.
SERIES VS. NORTHERN ILLINOIS
In series action, Akron and Northern Illinois have met 48 times with NIU holding a 29-19 all-time series advantage. In MAC games only (since 1991), the Huskies hold an 20-17 series edge. In MAC tourney play, the teams have met six times with NIU holding a 4-2 edge.
SCOUTING #4 SEED KENT STATE
The Golden Flashes, under first-year head coach Eric Oakley, finished the regular season at 27-25 overall and second in the MAC East with a 15-9 mark. Sophomore UT Bailey Brownfield is the top better with a .360 average. She had 54 hits and 19 RBI, , while MAC Player of the Year Maddy Grimm bats.318 with 42 hits and 53 RBI. In the circle, senior Ronnie Ladines has a 2.02 ERA and a 15-13 overall record. She's thrown 198.0 innings, striking out 176 and walking 56.
SERIES VS. KENT STATE
In series action, Akron and rival Kent State have met 96 times since 1987 with the Flashes holding a 59-36-1 advantage. On April 21-22, KSU claimed a point in the Crystal Clinic Wagon Wheel Challenge after winning two of three games. In MAC tourney play, the Flashes hold a 3-0 edge. In the 2016 MAC Championship, top-seeded Kent State claimed a 13-6 victory over the No. 6 seeded Zips, eliminating UA from postseason play.
SCOUTING #5 SEED BALL STATE
The Cardinals, under the guidance of second-year head coach Megan Ciolli Bartlett, finished the regular season at 30-26 overall and third in the MAC West with a 14-10 mark. Senior OF Rachel Houck is the top batter at .317 with 59 hits and 34 RBI. In the circle, freshman Darcie Huber has pitched 102.2 innings, striking out 63 and walking 39. She has a 2.25 ERA and a 9-7 record.
SERIES VS. BALL STATE
In series action, Ball State holds a 31-22 advantage over Akron, including a 29-19 edge in MAC games only. BSU and Akron did not meet during the 2017 regular season. In MAC tourney play, they've met five times with NIU taking a 3-2 lead.
SCOUTING #6 SEED MIAMI
The RedHawks, under fifth-year head coach Clarisa Crowell, finished the regular season at 29-22 overall and third in the MAC East with a 14-10 mark. Junior IF Kat Lee is Miami's leading hitter, batting .349 with 51 hits, 30 runs, and 33 RBI. In the circle, sophomore Shannon Hohman has seen the most action, pitching 107.1 innings. She stands 6-7 overall with a 4.17 ERA, fanning 79 and walking 49 batters.
SERIES VS. MIAMI
Since their first meeting in 1989, Akron holds a 38-27 series advantage over Miami (Ohio). In MAC games, the series is tied, 34-34. Last weekend, Miami won two of the three games. In MAC tourney play, they've only met once (in 2008) when No. 8 seed Akron upset No. 4 seed Miami, 3-2.
SCOUTING #8 SEED WESTERN MICHIGAN
The Broncos, under the guidance of 17th-year head coach Kathy Leitke, finished the regular season at 23-27 overall and tied for fourth in the MAC West with a 11-13 mark. Senior 3B Kelsea Cichocki is the top Bronco at the plate, batting .404 with 63 hits and 45 RBI. In the circle, sophomore Jordan Kurth has seen the most action. She's thrown 119.2 innings, fanning 75 and walking 28. She has a 2.98 ERA and a 9-16 record.
SERIES VS. WESTERN MICHIGAN
Western Michigan holds a 26-20 series edge over Akron since 1988. In MAC games only, WMU leads, 28-16. The teams did not meet during the 2017 regular season. In MAC tourney play, the Broncos lead, 2-1.
Pitcher Lexie Handley was named the 2017 Mid-American Conference Freshman of the Year as well as second-team All-MAC and All-Freshman honors. Redshirt junior outfielder Ashley Sims (Brookville, Fla.) earned first-team All-MAC accolades.
Handley leads the MAC in innings pitched (210.1) and games started (32). The lefty threw her first career no-hitter in the 9-0 win at Eastern Michigan on April 2. On the season records chart, Handley stands second in walks (86), 7th in strikeouts (173), and 8th in victories (19). During the season, Handley's honors included MAC Pitcher of the Week three times (April 18, April 3, Feb. 21), HERO of the Week (April 7), and Zips' Student-Athlete of the Week (Feb. 20).
Sims is the Zips' top batter at the plate, batting (.370) with 61 hits, including three doubles. She leads all MAC players in stolen bases and attempts, going 42-of-54. Named to the Stetson Lead-off Classic All-Tournament Team, the sport management major enters postseason play just three stolen bases shy of the season record (45).
IN THE MAC STATS
As of May 8, Akron leads all Mid-American Conference teams in sacrifice bunts (68), stolen bases (132), and stealing attempts (178). Redshirt junior CF Ashley Sims leads all players in the Mid-American Conference in stolen bases (42). In the circle, freshman Lexie Handley is first in innings pitched (210.1).
SIMS SECOND IN THEFTS
With her two stolen bases at Niagara, redshirt junior CF Ashley Sims has moved into second place on the list for stolen bases in a season. She currently has a MAC-best 42 stolen bases. UA's record for thefts in a season is 45, held by Lisa McLean from 2009.
FRUIN HITS HOME RUN MILESTONE
With her home run in the 4-2 win over Dayton, senior OF Savannah Fruin recorded her 32nd career home run. She moved into a second-place outright on Akon's all-time career list. Kelli Metzger (1996-99) is the career leader with 57 home runs.
The Zips honored six members of their graduating class prior to the final home games on April 22– juniors OF Taylor Kirian, OF Ashley Sims, and OF Kayla Schlosser; and seniors OF Savannah Fruin, C Alyssa Nicholas, and 2B Anna Tarpley.
Over the last four years, this class has won more than 25 games each season. In their first two seasons, these Zips helped Akron advance to a third-place finish in the Mid-American Conference Tournament, one of the highest finishes since the Zips began competing in Division I.
Individually, the Zips have re-written the record books and climbed the career charts while racking up weekly honors. Off the field, they've represented the University in the community with several activities, including Summit County Developmental Disabilities, Akron Children's Hospital, Summit County Juvenile Detention Center, Akron Public Schools, and many other community organizations.
In the final weekend of regular-season play, Akron dropped two of three games at Miami (Ohio). In their sole win, the Zips came from behind to win game one, 4-1.
In the top of the seventh with bases loaded and no outs, junior OF Taylor Kirian hit a home run to left field, scoring senior OF Savannah Fruin, freshman PR Madison Carter, and sophomore DP Kelly Hysong. It was the first grand slam of her collegiate career and her fourth homer of the season. Kirian became the second Zip to hit a grand slam this season, joining senior 2B Anna Tarpley who had one at Northern Illinois (March 24).
HEAD COACH JULIE JONES
In her 11th season at Akron, head coach Julie Jones has mentored 19 All-MAC honorees, five NCAA All-Mideast Region selections, 28 Academic All-MAC student-athletes, eight Academic All-District selections, and two Academic All-Americans, the 2014 MAC Pitcher of the Year, the 2017 MAC Freshman of the Year, and the 2016 prestigious MAC Nan Harvey award winner.
With the 1-0 shutout of Fort Wayne in the final game of the Black & Gold Tournament, Jones recorded her 250th win at Akron. The 2-0 victory at Youngstown State was the 500th victory of Jones' career. The 3-2 win at Bowling Green was her 100th win in MAC play.
Jones is Akron's all-time leader for games coached (570) and ranks second in coaching wins (271).