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Austintown season ends in Solon

May 23, 2018
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

The Fitch softball team's quest for a district championship came to a close last Wednesday night in Solon.

Canfield's Chloe Cruz hit a bloop, walk-off single in the bottom of the seventh lifting the top-seeded Lady Cardinals to a 3-2 win over the fifth-seeded Lady Falcons. While the Canfield girls advanced to play for that elusive district crown, the Falcons were left admiring the clutch play of their rivals.

"(Canfield) knows how to get timely hits," said Fitch head coach Steve Ward shortly after the narrow loss. "We were about a foot away from making the play, but we came up a little short."

Making things sadder for the Falcons was the fact that Cruz's single was the only hit of that fateful final frame. Canfield put runners on second and third thanks to a Fitch error, a hit batter and a sacrifice bunt.

"We weren't able to get the timely hitting like (Canfield) did," Ward said.

Both of Fitch's runs came in the top of the third when Lydia Spalding led off the inning with a solo home run and Kacie Roth hit an RBI single. That, unfortunately, would be it for the Falcons the rest of the day. The Cardinals would tie it in their half of the fifth and then win it in the seventh. Spalding was nearly spectacular in the pitching circle going the distance allowing just five hits to the powerful Canfield offense and striking out five. According to the veteran coach, Fitch's loss was not due to a lack of determination.

"Our team laid it on the line and gave the physical and emotional effort we asked of them," Ward announced.

Ward's kids were able to take on their crosstown nemesis because they disposed of the host school a week earlier. Fitch upended number four seed Solon 5-1 in the sectional finals. Spalding picked up her final pitching win of the year by spinning a masterful one-hitter. She struck out 11 Solon hitters along the way and was dynamic at the plate as well going two for two with a triple, a double and two walks. Lainie Simons also slugged a two-run single in the victory.

Both Simons and Spalding will be returning next spring, as will stalwart underclassmen such as Ashley Fuller and Kaitlyn Sciortino. Having a good returning class will be welcomed because Coach Ward will be looking to replace eight graduating seniors. It was a senior class that did a tremendous job both on and off the diamond.

"I'm very proud of what our seniors did to improve our program," Ward said. "We went back to character and it allowed us to be accountable to each other. We were able to coach them through the beginning part of the season where we were discovering our identity as a team. They all bought in and believed in the process."

Coach Ward expects next year's Falcons to continue to buy in and believes the heartbreaking setback in Solon will make them stronger as a unit.

"We have an excellent group of girls coming back," Ward said. "They are hungry because they tasted success this year and want to build more. The fire has been lit and our offseason programs will stoke it to see what we can become next year."

 
 

 

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