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Fantastic season for Fitch softball team ends short of district

May 29, 2019
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

The upset minded Fitch softball team was sitting in a nice position heading into the third inning of its Division I district semifinal game in Solon on May 15.

The third seeded Lady Falcons led the second seeded host school 1-0 and, with superstar starting pitcher Lydia Spalding already two innings into a shutout, their dreams of remaining alive for a district championship were becoming clearer. Then an unforeseen mishap befell the Falcons. Spalding had to leave the game after hurting her hand sliding into second base. Thankfully, postgame x-rays were negative, but what happened next to the Fitch girls in this game was far from positive. Solon slaughtered the Fitch bullpen for 11 unanswered runs and cruised to an 11-1 victory. The Lady Comets subsequently upended number one seed Hudson to win the Solon District. Fitch, meanwhile, ended its campaign with a 14-10 record and with one large compliment from its head coach.

"Our staff is extremely proud of this season," said Steve Ward following the loss. "We made some true milestones in our program."

The first milestone by the Falcons came when they captured their first conference championship in 19 years. Fitch also beat mighty North Canton Hoover for the first time ever and hung tough with some nationally ranked teams on it spring break trip to Myrtle Beach.

"These moments set the stage for our future," Ward said. "We had large numbers of youth players watching our games because they were excited for our success."

It was pretty exciting early against Solon too. In the top of the third, Fitch broke a scoreless tie when Abby Brown doubled and scored on Spalding's run scoring single. It turned gloomy when Spalding then attempted to steal second and slid awkwardly. Kaitlyn Evanko relieved Spalding and after one solid frame, she was roughed up by the Comets. Still, her coach had nothing but positive things to say about his junior hurler.

"Kaitlyn had a nice first inning in there," Ward said. "She gave us a fighting chance. Solon adjusted and became comfortable with their swings. I'm proud of what she did stepping up in such short notice."

Fitch's coach only had a short time after the setback to think of what he was going to say to his group, especially the senior class made up of Brown, Lainie Simons, Kayla Kelty, Kaitlyn Sciortino, Ashley Fuller and Ryleigh Morgan.

"We told them how proud we were of them and reminded them of how well improved (they became) and how much they gelled as a team," said Ward.

Certainly, the return of Spalding means the Falcons will be in prime position to defend their All American Conference Red Tier title. Although it seems as if Spalding's been slinging it at Fitch for about 12 years, she will amazingly only be a junior in 2020. Evanko had a terrific junior season and she will be joined by infielder Ashley Mickey, Jenna Chmelik and Courtney Schwind in the senior class next season. Sophomores Elyssa Moody, Haley Tarr and Anna Skarbinski were all key contributors as well. Freshman Maddy Taylor made the most of her varsity opportunity and has a bright future ahead of her. In fact, Ward believes great times are ahead for his entire gang as long as they keep the fire burning inside of them.

"We want to go from get hungry to stay hungry," said the coach. "The formula for success is there and we hope to have a strong offseason to set our path to another successful year. If we keep distractions away and stay the course, we will be a tough team to beat next year."



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