One of the major goals for the Fitch softball team this season is to capture the All American Conference championship and last week the Lady Falcons took two steps towards reaching that plateau.
Fitch started its 2014 season by taking a pair of games from conference rival Howland.
''This is the toughest schedule we have had here in my ten years as coach,'' said coach Melody Ward. ''We are an experienced group that looks to return to the big stage.''
The stage was set for the Falcons March 31 when the team traveled to Howland and edged the home team 5-4 in nine innings. The big blow in the contest was Nicholette Zordich's first homerun of the season. She also contributed two other hits and had an RBI. Sierra Pierce had a triple and an RBI for the Falcons. Alex Franken, Chelsea Raymer and Christina Savo collected the other RBI's for Fitch. Gabby Butcher also belted a double in the win.
Franken, a sophomore, started the game for the Falcons and pitched for eight innings. Relieving Franken in the final frame was freshman Pierce who picked up the win out of the bullpen.
In the team's home opener against Howland on April 1, Franken scattered six hits and struck out three in the 4-2 triumph. The Falcons got all the runs they needed to back Franken in the third and fourth innings. Pierce paced Fitch with a double, single and an RBI. Zordich had a double and an RBI. Mercedes Pratt and McKenzie Luknis also knocked in runs for the Falcons.
''I definitely attribute our pitching to the wins over a very good Howland team,'' Ward said. ''Pitching was the key in both games. (Franken) kept a good hitting team off balance (in the second game).''
Ward will get the chance to showcase her two top pitchers again when the Falcons play their third straight conference tilt against Poland this week. On Friday, Fitch will take a break from battling local teams and head to Ashland to play in the Wendy's Classic.
''This tournament is invite only,'' Ward said. ''Only teams with exceptional strength of returning pitching qualify for consideration. An invitation is a reward for a successful season with the same high expectations for the following season. We are honored to be invited.''
This will mark only the second time since 1995 time that a Fitch softball team has been invited to play at the Wendy's Classic.