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Showdown down south should prove beneficial for Lady Falcons

April 17, 2019
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

A 5-1 start in the All American Conference has the Fitch softball team in first place and on pace for a league championship.

A series sweep of Warren Harding on April 8 and 9 allowed the Lady Falcons to fly to the top of the AAC. Since every other Red Tier team has two losses, all the Fitch girls need to do now is stay the course and it will capture the conference crown.

"The wins against Harding put us in the position we want," said Fitch head coach Steve Ward. "We control our own destiny. As long as we continue to get stronger, we will have the opportunity to compete for a title."

The opening win over the Lady Raiders in Warren was made possible when Ward's club scored ten runs over the first four innings. That explosion turned this battle into a 10-0 Mercy Rule shortened affair. Fantastic freshman Maddie Taylor led Fitch's 12-hit attack with three safeties and two runs batted in. Senior outfielders Ashley Fuller and Abby Brown both had two hits and two RBIs. Junior Jenna Chmelik had a couple hits and a couple ribbies. Senior Lainie Simons had an RBI double. The beneficiary of this offensive output was sophomore starting pitcher Lydia Spalding who earned the victory. She didn't give up any runs during her time in the pitching circle. Junior Kaitlyn Evanko came in out of the bullpen to notch the save.

Things weren't much different a day later in Austintown as the Falcons won by almost the identical score. This time, Fitch's girls were nice enough to let the Raiders cross home plate, but they still prevailed 10-2. Fitch would pick up fourteen more hits giving them 26 in two days off of Harding pitching. Spalding and Evanko once again combined to keep the Harding hitters at bey. Spalding struck out eight in her three innings of work and also came up a homerun shy of hitting for the cycle. Evanko secured another save. Simons did homer as did Taylor. The rookie also singled and had two RBIs. Junior shortstop Ashely Mickey managed two hits and an RBI. Sophomore outfielder Haley Tarr also had a run scoring hit.

The five wins inside the Red Tier make up for almost all of Fitch's season total of triumphs. Thanks in part to non-league losses to Massillon Perry and LaBrae, the Falcons overall mark stands at 6-4 as they embarked on a road trip to Myrtle Beach to play in the prestigious Grand Strand Classic. When the Falcons arrived in the predicted sunshine and 75 degrees, they were greeted by a bunch of schools with winning pedigrees. During the tournament, Fitch will play Madison, Virginia who is undefeated and ranked fourth nationally by USA Today, Cheraw who is number one in West Virginia, Horseheads of New York who is fourth in that state, George Washington of West Virginia who is 15-0 and Greenbriar Christian Academy of Virginia who is the defending Christian champions. Fitch's coach is well aware how grueling this slate of games should be for his bunch, but wouldn't have it any other way.

"Our schedule is a monster," Ward said on the eve of the Classic. "Every one of our players wants these games and are looking forward to competing at the highest level nationally. We look at this as an amazing opportunity and are thankful we get this chance to play such amazing teams."

When Ward's brood returns home from the beach, they will have a home-in-home series with struggling Howland. That will be just the type of series the Falcons need to keep the momentum they've built in the AAC going.

"We realize we are truly starting to control every game," said Ward. "We are a few plays away from different outcomes. We will continue to emphasize the process and how we will continue to improve."

 
 

 

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