A 6-1 victory over Jefferson on March 27 kicked off what could be a very successful season for the Fitch baseball team.
That victory was followed by a pair of other triumphs, which put Fitch head coach Wally Ford in a fabulous early season mood.
"It's always nice to get that first win," said Ford following the win over Jefferson. "We played well (both against Jefferson and later in the week). We got good pitching and defense."
Good pitching may be something Falcons' fans may see a lot of this spring. Heading up the rotation is junior Austin Cooper who pitched six strong innings in the opener.
"(Cooper) will be up at the top," Ford forecasted. "He threw strikes versus Jefferson."
Another strike thrower is sophomore Scott Pierce who tossed a three-hit shutout in the Falcons' 7-0 win over Lakeview on March 29.
"If Cooper is No. 1 then (Pierce) is 1A," said Ford.
When Pierce is not piercing opponents with pitchers he will start at shortstop.
Another sophomore, Alex DiFrancesco worked in relief during opening week and flashed a flare to finish games. He picked up the win in Fitch's third win of the year over Mooney on March 30. Also seeing considerable starting time on the hill will be seniors Anthony Paris and Logan Kane.
Paris and Kane are half of Fitch's four returning seniors and will start in right field and first base respectively when not pitching. The other two twelfth-graders are infielder Scott Sympson and outfielder Marcus Dodson. That pair will play more of a part-time role for the Falcons mainly because this Fitch team is loaded with incredible underclassmen.
"We have a really nice class of sophomores," Ford said enthusiastically. "The young guys have looked good."
Besides Pierce and DiFrancesco, Fitch has triumvirate other sophomores who saw extensive time as freshmen. Third baseman Zack Miller, leftfielder Shane Vitullo and second baseman Alex Sierra are three kids who will see their names in the lineup almost every day.
"Miller (who had five hits over the first two games) hit well last year and will hit cleanup for us," said Ford. "Vitullo played a lot last year. Sierra is really impressive defensively (he's not a bad hitter either collecting two hits against Lakeview)."
Another player with the last name of Sierra who is impressive is Alex's older brother Kevin. The junior will patrol center field for the Falcons. Junior Zarek Bell who went 2-4 with a run against Mooney will be the team's starting catcher. Also grabbing two hits in Fitch's come-from-behind 7-3 win over the Cardinals was Kane.
Those clutch hits were important for Ford to see because he was a little disappointed that his boys left 10 runners on base in the season opener. Otherwise, this Fitch lineup has the potential to be pretty potent.
"Leaving the 10 guys on base was a negative, but 1-9 I think we are a solid group," said Ford.
Of course, pitching and defense always seems to trump offense when a team wins a championship and that may be more evident in 2012. Restrictions in the types of bats hitters are allowed to use should slow down run scoring and make the fundamentals much more fantastic.
"We need to put more emphasis on pitching and defense," Ford explained. "We have (pitching) depth. That will come in handy early when we limit the number of pitches (Fitch pitchers are allowed to throw)."
It will be difficult for Ford to count those pitches with all of the games his team is scheduled to play before heading to Myrtle Beach for the annual Mingo Bay Classic on Good Friday. Once the Falcons arrive in Myrtle Beach it will commence on another long stretch of action.
"We have five games in five days against great competition," said Ford with a sigh. "It will be a good chance to use our pitching. It will be a nice trip, but not the highlight of our season."
No, the highlight would be if the Falcons could find a way to win the All American Red Tier in their first season in that local conference. In Fitch's way will be conference founders Howland, Canfield and Poland.
"Those teams are always tough," Ford said honestly. "They are right up there with the Federal League teams (Fitch played in conference in recent years)."
That may be true, but the Falcons were fairy successful in the Federal and look to be just as competitive in their new surroundings.