Fitch softball head coach Melody Ward has worked endlessly over the years to build a powerful softball program in Austintown.
One way she has done that is by forming relationships with girls who are not yet high school aged. This summer, Melody and her husband and assistant coach Steve, created four traveling teams to compete in various tournaments. One of those teams was made up of girls who are age 10 and under, two teams were made up of girls 12 and under and the other was a group of girls who are 14 years old and under.
"Steve and I have been working very diligently with (Austintown) youth rec programs and travel leagues," wrote Ward in an email recently. "We created these teams to better prepare our Austintown girls for their future high school softball careers."
Photo special to the Town Crier
The Ohio Magic Teal team, in the front row are: Julia McMenamin, Soriya Rezapourian, Amy Mikulich, Christiana Savo, Brianna Protain; in the back row: Maddie Everhart, Natalie Lynn, Mckenzie Luknis, Kara Gatta, Adrianna Popovich, Alex Franken. The team is coached by Tim McMenamin, Steve Ward and Melody Ward.
While the futures of these young ladies may be bright, the present for one of those teams was just as spectacular. Ward's 14u Ohio Magic Teal team won the Sluggers Summer Bash Tournament that was held June 22-24. The Ohio Magic made their competition disappear by scoring 42 runs en route to finishing the weekend 5-0. That was the first time that group of girls picked up a trophy and it also earned them a national bid.
One weekend earlier, that same bunch finished second out of 16 teams in the Ohio Magic Softball Classic Tournament. With that runner-up finish the girls qualified for the National Tournament that will be held August 1-5 in Salem, Va. Only the top two teams from that Ohio tourney were selected to play softball in Salem. There was also another reason why this was such a special squad.
"This is a first year team made up of nine Austintown girls," said Ward. "All the girls will be going into the eighth and ninth grade."
Ward's winners include Brianna Protain, Soriya Rezapourian, Christiana Savo, Julia McMenamin, Alex Franken, Adrianna Popovich, McKenzie Luknis, Maddie Everhart, Natalie Lynn, Amy Mikulich and Kara Gatta. Mikulich and Gatta are the only two team members who are not future Fitch Lady Falcons. That duo will be attending Liberty in the fall.
None of the success obtained by these adolescent athletes would be possible if wasn't for all of the hard work they put in prior to playing in these past two tournaments.
"This team has attended various camps, clinics, practices and scrimmages in preparation for our summer tournaments," Ward explained.
That extensive practice has paid off handsomely so far this summer and the girls hope it will continue in a few weeks in Virginia. Coach Ward hopes it also carries on once these terrific players reach the high school level.