Although it had just a 4-4 record, the Fitch softball team was in a positive mood as it headed to Myrtle Beach, S.C., to play in the annual Mingo Bay Classic.
That tournament began over Easter weekend, but on April 5 in Niles it was Fitch's bats that had a resurrection.
A couple days after getting pummeled a pair of times by Poland, the Lady Falcons earned their first-ever All American Red Tier conference win by nailing 11 hits off of Niles in an 11-1 victory. Fitch tallied two runs in the first inning, single runs in innings two and three then exploded for seven to put the game away in the top of the fourth. Fabulous freshman Alex Corradi blasted two doubles and had three RBIs. Megan Carney had one double and one RBI. Gabby Butcher brought home two runs. Alana Callahan collected a pair of hits and a ribbie. Starting pitcher Tori Wise tossed a one-hitter to get her fourth victory and also had an RBI single. Wise has been putting in a lot of time to make her stand out as Fitch's number one starter and that extensive activity has paid off so far in 2012.
"Tori has been working extremely hard this year," said Fitch head coach Melody Ward earlier this season. "She has made great improvements."
The 11 runs scored against the Lady Red Dragons also showed an enormous improvement from Fitch's previous game at Poland. The Lady Bulldogs brought home runs in every inning including nine combined in innings three and four to fry the Falcons 12-0 on April 3. Carney was the only Fitch hitter to record a safety in the shutout loss.
Although the game at Poland one day earlier was tied 1-1 after the first inning, the Falcons fell hard to the defending state champions 12-2. The Bulldogs blasted three runs in the third and fourth innings then five runs in the fifth to make the Falcons fizzle. Carney went 3-for-3 with a double and an RBI in defeat. Callahan had a double, a single and a ribbie.
On a more positive note, there were two other landmark wins for the Falcons before heading south. Those triumphs were over Ravenna, 6-2 and Warren Harding, 12-2 and 4-2 in a double-header. Wise picked up wins in both ends of that twinbill with the Lady Raiders. In game one, Wise received help from sophomore pitcher Chelsea Raymer who hurled only one inning, but is in coach Ward's mix of other arms to be used in Tori's stead.
"Chelsea Raymer finished the game in the final frame for us," said Fitch assistant head coach Steve Ward. "(Raymer) came in the sixth and seventh (in the win over Ravenna) to finish the game. We will need her (this season)."
Callahan enjoyed a 4-for-4 day against Harding with a triple, double and two singles. Wise helped her own cause by crashing two doubles for five RBIs. Carney had three hits, two runs batted in and a stolen base. Cali Mikovich had two swipes herself. Katee Sweeney slapped two singles. Corradi had a double, single and an RBI.
Fitch only had five hits in the nightcap, but made those all count. Marie Bishop blasted a triple. Billie Jo Cox collected a double. Mikovich mashed two hits and knocked in two runs. Holmes had a single and an RBI.
All of the offense against the Lady Raiders was wonderful as were some of the smaller things the Falcons accomplished.
"In this doubleheader we won both and really got an opportunity to try out some bunt and steals, suicide plays and different looks on defense," Steve Ward said.
It's good that Ward's girls got a chance to hone those different skills before participating in the Mingo Bay Classic because some of the teams Fitch will be forced to challenge have already played a ton of games this spring. Despite the incredible competition facing the Falcons, coach Ward just wants his group to make Austintown proud.
"We hope to represent our school and community well at the beach," he exclaimed.