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Fitch coach leads Mahoning County Squad
June 19, 2019

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A select group of senior softball players from Mahoning and Trumbull County were chosen to participate in the 16th annual Bill Sferra All Star Classic held at the Youngstown State softball complex last Tuesday afternoon.

While this doubleheader acted as a showcase of some superb softball talent, it also gave the chance to our area's best players to wear their high school uniforms one final time. Many of the girls that were selected to participate will be continuing their playing careers in college, but most of them took the diamond for the final time. The Mahoning County squad was managed by Austintown Fitch head coach Steve Ward and he was assisted by his Falcon crew of Becki Spalding, Bob Jones and Jerry Bruff. For Ward, this opportunity to lead the Mahoning side was a coup for his coaching career. He also thought his task was quite easy to accomplish.

"I was very excited to have our staff coach this game," Ward said. "When you have that much talent you just get out of their way and let them be amazing. There was great energy in the dugout, and everyone was rooting for everyone. It was a ton of fun."

The most fun had last Tuesday was on the Mahoning side as Ward's stars swept the twin bill. In game one, the pitching combination of Poland's Ashley Wire and Boardman's Jen Taraszewski was way too much for the Trumbull kids to handle in a 9-0 victory. Wire worked the first four innings allowing just three hits to earn the win. It was a nice bounce back for Wire who lost her only game of the year a couple weeks ago in the state semifinals. The sensational senior slinger had won her previous 20 starts before that setback. She'll be playing ball at Westminster next spring. Taraszewski entered the contest in the fifth and finished things off with three shutout frames. Mahoning's offense was paced by a couple of Cardinal Mooney standouts. Catcher Concetta Ronaldi raked two doubles and a single and knocked in five runs. Teammate Gia DiFabio had a double and three runs batted in. Poland shortstop Lauren Sienkiewicz scored three runs.

The nightcap was a lot closer than game one, but the Mahoning group still prevailed 6-5. Down 6-2 entering the seventh inning, Trumbull took off and scored three times to pull to within one run of a tie. The game ended with two Trumbull runners on base. Fitch's Lainie Simons had an RBI for the winners.

Other notable local members of the Mahoning roster were outfielder Abby Brown of Fitch, outfielder Mary Gomez and shortstop Brooke Crissman of Canfield, infielder/outfielder Brooke Chandler of Mooney and Boardman second baseman/outfielder Alicia Saxton. The honor of coaching such a grand gathering of athletes was akin to coaching a dream team according to Ward.

"Our roster was filled with amazing talent and we were thrilled to coach with them instead of against these amazingly talented players from the area," said Ward.

Two of those "amazing talents" represented Ward's Falcons. He was grateful to get the opportunity to pencil their names into a lineup one final time.

"It's always difficult to say goodbye to seniors," said Ward. "Lainie has been varsity for four years and Abby three so for us to get the chance to coach them one more time is such a gift. They both play with love and passion for the game and we will miss all of our seniors."

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