Zips Host Kent State in Wagon Wheel Challenge Games

Zips Host Kent State in Wagon Wheel Challenge Games

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vs. Kent State [7-23, 7-8 MAC]

 Lee R. Jackson Field • Akron, Ohio
Friday, April 21 • 3 p.m.
DH on Saturday, April 22 • 1 & 3 p.m.

Live Stats: www.GoZips.com
Webstream: www.GoZips.com


Akron closes out the home portion of its schedule with rival Kent State in the Crystal Clinic Wagon Wheel Challenge series. A single game is scheduled for Friday, April 21, at 3 p.m., followed by a twinbill on Saturday, April 22, at 1 p.m. All games will be played at Lee R. Jackson Field. The games will be streamed live on GoZips.com with Scott Nixon (play-by-play) and coach Scott Scalf (analysis) calling the action.

Saturday's twinbill will be dedicated to StrikeOut Cancer, an initiative sponsored by the National Fastpitch Coaches Association(NFCA) and close to head coach Julie Jones' heart. UA will sell StrikeOut Cancer t-shirts to benefit coach's cousin Lisa Tripp, who has leukemia. Tripp's niece Chloe Fuller will sing the national anthem.

The Zips' Senior Class will be honored between games on Saturday.

The Akron Zips, under the guidance of 11th-year head coach Julie Jones, stand 20-23 overall and 8-7 in MAC play after splitting a non-conference twinbill with Dayton on Wednesday. The Zips return 10 letterwinners, including four starters. UA welcomes four freshmen.

After 43 contests, junior OF Ashley Sims (Brooksville, Fla.), is the Zips' top hitter, batting .389 with 30 runs, 51 hits, and a MAC-best 35 stolen bases. Senior OF Savannah Fruin (Delray Beach, Fla.) follows at .333 with 38 RBI, 40 hits, eight doubles, a triple, and 10 home runs.

In the circle, freshman lefty Lexie Handley (Mogadore, Ohio) has a 2.30 ERA. She stands 16-13 overall, throwing a MAC-high 176.1 innings with 156 strikeouts and 61 walks. Junior Kooper Vertz (Dilsboro, Ind.) is 3-3 overall with a 3/44 ERA. She has pitched 40.2 innings with 19 strikeouts and 14 walks.

The Golden Flashes, under first-year head coach Eric Oakley, stand 17-23 overall and 7-8 in MAC play after splitting with Miami (Ohio) over the weekend. Sophomore UT Bailey Brownfield is the leading hitter for Kent, batting .339 with 41 hits, 15 runs, and 12 RBI. In the circle, senior Ronnie Ladines has seen the most action, pitching 162.0 innings. She stands 9-13 overall with a 2.42 ERA, fanning 128 and walking 52 batters. KSU's mid-week doubleheader at Saint Francis (Pa.) has been postponed.

In series action, Akron and rival Kent State have met 93 times since 1987 with the Flashes holding a 57-35-1 advantage. Last season, the Zips won the first game in the series, 3-0, before falling, 8-3 and 6-3. 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.

The winner of the Akron-KSU softball series will capture one point for its school in the Crystal Clinic Orthopaedic Center Wagon Wheel Challenge. Akron currently leads, 6-3, with four additional spring events on the schedule (men's and women's golf; men's and women's outdoor track and field). A total of 7.5 points is needed to win the challenge.

The 14-sport rivalry series between Akron and Kent State is based on a time-honored competition for an historic wooden wagon wheel trophy awarded originally in 1945 to the winner of the annual Akron-Kent State football game.

Since the 2011-12 academic year, the rivalry was broadened to include 14 NCAA varsity sports, with victories in each sport adding one point to the challenge standings. To learn more about the rivalry and follow the results and standings, visit:


The Zips will honor six members of their graduating class on Saturday between games– 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.

Freshman left-hander Lexie Handley (Mogadore, Ohio) captured MAC EAST Pitcher of the Week honors for the East Division on April 18 for the third time this season.

Last week, Handley led the Zips to three MAC wins. Handley threw 21.0 innings, including three complete games, including a one-hitter in the 1-0 shutout win over Ohio on Friday. She struck out 17 batters and walked three.

The Akron softball team split a non-conference doubleheader with Dayton on Wednesday afternoon at Lee R. Jackson Field. UD claimed the first game, 7-3. The Zips rebounded for a 4-2 win in five innings. The game was called as thunderstorms rolled through the area.

In the first game, UA scored its first run in the bottom of the sixth as sophomore DP Kelly Hysong (Beach City, Ohio) knocked her fifth home run out of the park.

Junior RHP Kooper Vertz (Dilsboro, Ind.) took the loss. She pitched 5.0 innings, fanning a season-high five batters.

In the nightcap, Akron jumped on the scoreboard in the first inning on runs by senior C Alyssa Nicholas and senior OF Savannah Fruin, who each reached on singles.

In the bottom of the fourth, UA added two more runs as lead-off batter Fruin notched her 32nd career home run. Lakins hit a single, scoring junior OF Taylor Kirian for a 4-0 edge.

Vertz captured the win (3-3 overall). She went the distance, striking out three and walking two.

As of April 17, Akron leads all Mid-American Conference teams in sacrifice bunts (53), stolen bases (102), and stealing attempts (139). Redshirt junior CF Ashley Sims leads all players in the Mid-American Conference in stolen bases (35). In the circle, freshman Lexie Handley is first in innings pitched (176.1) and wins (16), and third in strikeouts (156).

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.

In her 11th season at Akron, head coach Julie Jones has mentored 17 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, and the 2016 prestigious MAC Nan Harvey award winner. Her complete bio is on page 6.

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.

Jones is Akron's all-time leader for games coached (559) and ranks second in coaching wins (265). She needs just THREE WINS for 100 in MAC play.

Akron closes the regular season with an eight-game road swing. The first stop is Niagara for a twinbill on Wednesday, April 26, at 3 p.m.