Following a pair of losses to rival Canfield on April 15 and 16, Fitch softball head coach Melody Ward was interested to see how her team would bounce back.
Well coach, your team did very well thank you.
The Lady Falcons won two games and tied one in the prestigious Mahoning Valley Invitational Tournament then came back to win games over Jefferson, Struthers and Howland. Although the Falcons did fall at Howland on April 23, that setback could not steal the confidence coach Ward has in her team as pairings for the post-season tournament are about to be announced.
Photos by Emmett King, Town Crier correspondent
Cali Mikovich gets a base hit to first en route to a Fitch win over Hubbard, 12-6.
"We took back control in our game (after the losses to Canfield)," Ward mentioned. "We are playing at the competitive level our girls know how. We beat a very competitive Jefferson team and then Struthers."
Fitch also beat a sensational South Range squad at the Mahoning Valley Invitational. The Lady Raiders were 10-1 entering that tournament tilt so getting the best of them was a huge feather in the Falcons' caps. South Range ran out to a 4-0 lead, but a five-run fifth inning by the Falcons gave them the lead. After the two teams traded tallies over the next few innings, Fitch took the lead in the ninth to win a thrilling 10-8 extra inning affair.
"We exploded with clutch hits (in the fifth inning)," Ward explained. "There was so much positive energy in the dugout. The coaching staff is so proud of the girls for never getting down no matter what the scoreboard said. The girls wanted this game and they came together to make it happen."
Fitch's girls then played Conneaut in the championship of that tourney and had to settle for a 3-3 tie after the game was postponed due to darkness.
The only players left in the dark on April 22 against Howland were the Lady Tiger hitters. Fitch's Alex Franken froze out the Tigers on the chilly spring afternoon holding them to just two singles over seven innings. The Falcons weren't exactly ripping the cover off the softball either, but they continued to get clutch hits when needed. Run scoring hits by Cali Mikovich and Nicholette Zordich in the second inning gave the Falcons all they needed to handle Howland. Mikovich also mashed a double, as did Billie Jo Cox. Alex Corradi, Gabby Butcher, Mercedes Pratt and Franken also picked up hits versus Howland.
Franken wasn't as fortunate in the pitching circle the next day in Howland. The Tigers tore out for three runs in the bottom of the first and three more in the fifth and even though those would be the only two innings they scored, Fitch was still foiled 6-2. Corradi and Franken had Fitch's two RBI. Mikovich had two singles and two runs. Alana Callahan and Zordich picked up the only other Falcon safeties.
Just like they did after losing to Canfield, the Falcons fought back following the setback in Howland and won three more games over Hubbard, LaBrae and Liberty.
Twelve runs over the first four innings allowed Fitch to cruise past the Lady Eagles on April 25. Mikovich and Corradi each had three hits with Cali cracking a homer and Alex earning four RBI. Zordich had a double and a ribbie. Alana Callahan collected two RBI and Katee Sweeney knocked in one run.
Ward's warriors hosted a split doubleheader on April 27 and were able to improve to 11-5 overall by locking down both LaBrae and Liberty. Franken worked a complete game and scattered eight hits in the 3-0 blanking of the Lady Vikings. Once again Mikovich hit a home run to jumpstart the offense. Callahan had a double and an RBI. Franken helped her own cause with a run-scoring single. Corradi had two hits.
It may not have been another shutout, but Franken was equally as sharp in the circle in the 5-1 win over Liberty. The fantastic freshman fanned nine Lady Leopards and gave up just four hits to pick up the win. She also had an RBI double. Callahan, Pratt and Zordich also all knocked in runs.
That twin bill proved to be the end of an enormous stretch of games for the Falcons, but with the way they have been performing, there are few Fitch players who really need to take a break.
"What a long week of softball," said Ward, "but we have finally gotten back to playing well."