Over the holiday break, the Lady Falcons took a trip to Myrtle Beach to play in the annual Grandstand Softball Classic.
Although most of the participants were teams from the south who didn't have to contend with wicked weather to start their seasons, the snow-tested Falcons were the ones ruling the roost at the tournament's conclusion. The local girls went 5-0 in Myrtle Beach.
''We beat two undefeated, ranked teams to win this championship,'' said Fitch head coach Melody Ward.
The tournament commenced with a performance by Fitch pitcher Alex Franken against Priceville from Alabama. Franken tossed a one-hitter and struck out eight. She also aided her own cause with an RBI single. Alex Corradi collected two doubles and a single. Nicholette Zordich had a double and a single and Julie McMenamin also had a hit.
Starting pitcher Sierra Pierce got the nod the next day against Elmira from New York, and picked up her second win in a 5-4 Fitch triumph. The Falcons were trailing 4-1 after three innings and then scored four runs in the top of the fourth. Franken wasn't needed in the pitching circle, but she did damage at the plate with a double, single and two RBI's. Jess Welsh had a double and a single. Billie Jo Cox clipped a double and Cali Mikovich and Corradi each collected an RBI.
In game three Franken was back to her dominant pitching ways whipping Wesleyan Christian 2-1. Franken flipped a five-hitter and Mercedes Pratt picked up an RBI in the top of the fifth before Corradi corralled the game-winning RBI in the top of the sixth.
The semifinals of the South Carolina tournament saw the Falcons subdue South County from Virginia with a score of 1-0. Fitch's only run crossed the plate in the fifth inning and that was all Franken would need. She spun a two-hitter for the win. That fifth inning rally by the Falcons began when they shocked the South County club.
''We surprised (South County) with a bunt single,'' said Ward.
That bunt base hit was off the bat of the usually powerful Zordich. The junior would later score, thanks to a ground rule double by the equally powerful Mikovich.
The win over South County set up a sensational championship game between Fitch and unbeaten James Madison. Two runs in the third and fourth innings gave the Falcons a 4-1 lead. Three more runs in the top of the seventh gave Fitch its final cushion in a title clinching 7-6 victory. Mikovich led the offense with a double, a single and two RBI's. Zordich knocked in a pair of runs as well. Corradi had an RBI. Gabby Butcher hit a sacrifice fly for an RBI and Pratt picked up three hits.
Making the championship run in Myrtle Beach even more amazing was how badly the Falcons played just a week earlier at the Wendy's Classic in Ashland. Fitch finished the Wendy's a couple fries short of a value meal with a 1-2 record. Franken was beaten in both losses by Walsh 5-2 in game one and by Nevqua 6-1 in game two.
Pratt and Butcher brought home both of Fitch's runs in the first game. Zordich had a double as did Pierce.
The Falcons fumbled the ball three times in the second loss and were never really in the contest. Mikovich had a triple and a single. Corradi had two singles. Pierce picked up the only RBI.
Fitch did gain some momentum for the Myrtle Beach trip with a 9-6 win over Maumee in game three of the Wendy's. Down 1-0, Fitch scored two in the third and another pair in the fourth. Two more runs in the top of the seventh made it 6-3 in favor of the Falcons, but Maumee made it 6-6 with a three-run bottom of the frame. Three runs by the Falcons in the top of the ninth gave the girls an extra inning win.
Franken had two hits and three RBI's. Mikovich had a triple, two singles and two RBI's. Welsh walloped two hits. Pierce had an RBI double and earned the pitching win, and although her team lost two out of three games, Coach Ward wasn't disappointed by effort.
''I'm very proud of the way we played against state championship teams,'' said Ward. ''You have to be an elite program to be invited to the Wendy's.''