Hold your thumb and forefinger an inch apart.
That’s the margin that can produce thrilling victories or devastating defeats in the National Pro Fastpitch softball league.
Two mistakes on the same style of pitches – a riser that flattened out – rolled to a stop up about 12 feet apart from each other on the other side of the center-field fence.
The solo home runs by Ashley Thomas and Nerissa Myers that came in the sixth inning sent the Rebellion to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Akron Racers Wednesday at Consol Energy Park.
Those two mistakes ruined an otherwise magnificent pitching performance by right-handed starter Sarah Pauly and extended the Rebellion’s losing streak to six straight, 10 of the last 11.
“They were about the same pitch, a rise ball that went flat,” said Pauly, who allowed seven hits, did not walk a batter and struck out three in seven innings. “It’s very frustrating.”
The Rebellion’s record fell to 5-22 while the Racers moved to 17-9.
“Mistakes are always capitalized on in this league,” said Rebellion manager Stacey Rice. “They were rise balls that didn’t jump. Sarah pitched a great game. She has been pitching very well for us. But that’s just the big leagues.”
What made this loss so disheartening is that the Rebellion led for most of the game. They took a 1-0 lead in the first inning when left fielder Brittney Lindley led off with a single to center and stole second base. Designated player Courtney Liddle smacked a book-rule double to left field that scored Lindley.
It stayed that way until the sixth inning.
Thomas led off the inning when she sent a fly ball to deep centerfield that Sami Garcia first appeared to have a chance to catch. But the ball kept carrying and landed about 10 feet over the fence for Thomas’ third home run of the season. That tied the game at 1-1.
Pauly got the next two outs on bouncers back to the mound and appeared ready to get out of the inning with a tie score. But Myers sent another fly to deep center that Garcia did not have a chance to catch.
“We did enough to win the game, and that’s all that counts,” said Akron manager Brian Levin. “We were hitting a lot of fly balls and just missing them, getting under them. Pauly had us tied up.”
Three of Myers’ seven home runs have come off Rebellion pitching this season. She is tied for second in the league in home runs, one behind Brittany Cervantes of the Chicago Bandits.
“I wasn’t quite sure (it was going out),” Myers said. “It looked like (Garcia) might have a play on it. I just stick to my approach at the plate and go with it.”
Norris, meanwhile, allowed only one runner over the last 14 outs, and that was because of an error. The only other inning she had problems was the third, when the Rebellion put two runners on base with one out. But Norris got Liddle to pop out to second base and Mandy Ogle on a grounder to first base.
Norris is dealing with a foot injury and Levin went out to check on her in the second inning when Taylor Edwards got on with a bunt single.
“She did something to it on the bunt,” Levin said. “But she would have to break something to get her out of the game.”
Attendance was 803. … The Rebellion signed Kourtney Salvarola, who started at shortstop all four seasons while at the University of South Florida. Salvarola, who is from Arnold, Md., hit .322 and had 209 hits in her college career. She set the school record with 36 home runs. She struck out in a pinch-hitting appearance. … The Rebellion have two games that will be televised by CBS Sports Network this month at Consol Energy Park: Monday, July 28 and Tuesday, July 29, both against the Chicago Bandits. Those two teams also will have games televised Aug. 11 and Aug. 12. The Aug. 11 game begins at 8:30 p.m. Two other away games – Aug. 4 and 5 against the Akron Racers – also will be televised.