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Seniors set to lead Lady Falcons

March 27, 2014
By Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

Fitch's softball team won 20 games a year ago, which were the most for the school since the 1990s.

With an unbelievable amount of eight seniors and 11 letter winners returning to the roster, the Lady Falcons may be primed to make even more history this spring.

''It's a unique year as we have eight seniors,'' said head coach Melody Ward. ''We're looking forward to the return of that experience.''

Tops among these Falcons are senior second-sacker Cali Mikovich. The YSU softball recruit is a three- year starter who was first team All American Conference a year ago as well as second team All District. She hit .700 during Fitch's tournament run in 2013 and enters this year with a 28-game hitting streak. Mikovich has only been caught one time out of nearly 100 steal attempts.

''(Cali) is recognized as one of the top players in our area,'' Ward said. ''She has had many record breaking achievements.''

Mikovich makes a keystone combination with senior starting shortstop A.J. Corradi. Like her middle infield teammate, Corradi is a three-year starter who was also first team All AAC as a junior.

''(A.J.) is a solid middle infielder who we trust for her leadership and guidance,'' Ward said.

Back for her third year in the starting lineup is slugging senior first baseman/outfielder Gabby Butcher. Butcher has accepted a scholarship to Westminster, but first she must complete her stint in Ward's lineup.

''(Gabby) had a breakout season at the plate (in 2013),'' Ward said. ''And she is a solid defensive player too.''

There will be a battle at catcher between a pair of seniors in Mercedes Pratt and Alex Coe. Coe won a letter last year and Pratt lost time due to injury.

''(Mercedes) is rehabbing her shoulder, but we are confident in her abilities and talent behind the plate,'' Ward said. ''(Alex) is a hard worker who is known for her passion. She will catch a lot and we look forward to her making great strides during the season.''

Three other 12th-graders playing major roles are outfielder Jessica Welsh, first baseman; hitter Billie Jo Cox; and pitcher/hitter Chelsea Raymer.

''(Jessica) was out last year with an injury, but she's a fierce competitor who we look to for her leadership,'' Ward said. ''(Billie Jo) has a powerful left handed swing. (Chelsea) will be used as a replacement hitter and as a closer.''

Two juniors who have had different paths will play for the Falcons this year. Third baseman Nicholette Zordich is a two-year starter, while outfielder Ashlea Hawryluk is making her initial appearance at the varsity level.

''(Nicholette) has an excellent glove and a strong bat,'' Ward said. ''She is a strong competitor that possesses many intangibles. (Ashlea) has a tremendous amount of speed.''

Another Falcon who is fast on the base paths is sophomore utility player Soryia Rezapourian, who brings flexibility to the lineup.

''(Soryia) has the ability to hit from both sides of the plate and has great speed,'' Ward said.

Sophomore outfielder Christina Salvo is a returning letter-earner who also gives Ward a lot of athleticism.

''(Christina) is a great contributor in the outfield and in our lineup,'' the coach said.

With all of the hitting, speed and defense Fitch possesses, the ultra competitive AAC cannot be won without near perfect pitching. League foes such as Canfield, Howland and Poland are going to battle the Falcons for a conference crown and are equally talented in the field and at the bat. The pitching the Falcons foster, however, may make the difference. Sophomore starter Alex Franken was fabulous as a freshman in 2013 and is back to harass opposing hitters with her wide array of pitches.

''(Alex) made a huge statement,'' Ward said. ''Without Alex on the mound we would not nearly be as successful as we have become. We look forward to her leading us again.''

Should Franken falter or need a break, Ward can call upon freshman fire baller Sierra Pierce to take her place.

''(Sierra) is one of the most promising newcomers,'' Ward said. ''She will be a great compliment to Franken and she can also play second base which will allow us to move Cali to centerfield at times.''

Fitch begins the season March 31 at Western Reserve then begins league play with a home-in-home with Howland. Trips to the prestigious Wendy's Classic in Ashland April 11 and to Myrtle Beach one weekend later also highlight what according to Ward is the toughest schedule in her 10 years at Fitch.

''There is something very special about this core group,'' Ward said. ''Everyone is hardworking, contributes and has a strong desire to win. We are an experienced group that looks forward to returning to the big stage.''



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