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Fitch girls in driver's seat in Red Tier
May 1, 2019

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An early week showdown with rival Canfield will determine the fate of the Fitch softball team.

The Lady Falcons were scheduled to clash with the Lady Cardinals this past Monday and Tuesday needing two wins to capture the All American Conference's Red Tier championship. A split would give Canfield a share of the title with Boardman. Head coach Steve Ward is ecstatic with his club's standing as April flips to May.

"We're in a position where if we win both (over Canfield) we are outright champions," Ward said excitedly on the eve of the opener with the Cards. "We are peaking at the right time. We are being aggressive in all aspects of the game. We are ready to battle for the AAC championship and to make May our month."

April's final weekend ended with the Falcons losing at Louisville 10-2. Even that lopsided loss couldn't damper the good feeling around this Fitch outfit. The game was tied at two apiece heading into the home half of the fourth inning. Louisville then exploded for eight runs in that frame to shock their visitors. Senior Lainie Simons socked a home run for the Falcons.

That setback would be an outlier for Fitch last week as it was preceded by consecutive 11-1 blowouts of Howland. Despite the Lady Tigers' lowly place in the Red Tier standings, they are an aggressive and scrappy team that usually poses tough competition to their opponent. That's why Coach Ward was very impressed with the sweep.

"We were able to put up 11 runs in back to back days on a tough Tiger team," said Ward.

Sophomore Lydia Spalding spun a couple of outstanding outings giving up just two total runs in the two tilts with the Tigers. Junior Jenna Chmelik came on in relief to earn the save in the first encounter. Junior Ashley Mickey had a pair of hits and two RBIs in game one. Senior Ryleigh Morgan made three hits. Freshman Maddy Taylor turned in a double and a single and picked up an RBI. Simons also doubled and singled and brought in a run.

In the second showdown with the Tigers, Spalding struck out eight in five innings of work. Taylor took a free tour around the bases with a home run. Seniors Ashley Fuller and Abby Brown both had big days. Fuller had a double, single and a walk while Brown had an RBI.

The energy the Falcons displayed last week was outstanding considering they just returned home from a long trip to Myrtle Beach to play in the Grand Strand Classic. Ward's girls did fairly well in the tournament, but their win/loss record on the trip wasn't as important as the camaraderie the team built away from home.

"We are a different team than the one that went down there," said Ward. "The competition was amazing every day. We came together down there. That experience of playing every day at a high level will serve us well."

Coach Ward hopes his club is playing at a high level when it collides with the Cardinals. Fitch has a couple of nonconference games against Uniontown Lake and Massillon Washington also slated. Its first game in the Division I state playoffs is set for Wednesday, May 8 at home. The third seeded Falcons will face off with the winner of number six seed Kent Roosevelt and number eleven Maple Heights in the Solon sectional finals. A potential showdown with second seeded Solon in the districts awaits if things go as planned in the bracket.

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