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Lady Falcons fall just short of postseason goal

May 29, 2014
By Nik Zirounis - Town Crier Correspondent , The Town Crier

Many fans of area softball were waiting for a district tournament showdown between number one seed Aurora and second seeded Austintown Fitch. Aurora held up its end of the bargain by shutting out Howland 3-0 on May 16. Three days later, however, the Lady Falcons' dreams of a long playoff run came to an abrupt halt. Fitch was outplayed by Kent Roosevelt 8-4 on May 19 making its trip to the tourney a one and done situation.

Although the favorite Falcons scored in each of the first three innings to hold a 4-1 lead, Roosevelt reciprocated with two runs in the fourth, one in the sixth then four in the top of the seventh to blow open a tied game. After scoring four times in three frames, Fitch was shut down for nothing the rest of the contest. While the Falcons were still hitting, Jessica Welsh had a triple and an RBI. Sierra Pierce, Alex Corradi and Gabby Butcher had the other ribbies for Fitch.

Fitch had two wins in the week prior to playing in the playoffs. On May 13, the Falcons engaged in a white-knuckler against a talented Lakeview team. Down 2-1 in the last of the seventh, Fitch found some inner fortitude. Butcher led off the last inning with a single. McKenzie Luknis reached base on an error setting up Julia McMenamin. The Fitch freshman rapped an RBI double to tie the score at 2-2. and Cali Mikovich followed with a game-winning RBI hit that plated pinch runner Soriya Rezapourian. Alex Franken worked a complete game to earn the win.

A few days earlier Fitch shutout Madison 4-0 in the second game of the Mahoning Valley Invitational. Pierce was nearly perfect as she tossed a two-hit gem. The only run the Falcons needed came in the second inning thanks to an RBI groundout off the bat of Butcher. An inning later, Fitch's bats would blossom. Mikovich mashed a two-run homerun and Luknis laced an RBI double to make the score 4-0.

Mikovich, Franken, Corradi and Welsh were the only four Fitch batters to earn hits in the first game played against Conneaut. That game lasted 11 innings and was suspended due to rain with the score knotted at 2 each.

After the disappointing tournament result with Roosevelt, Coach Ward reminisced about her team's 16-8 campaign.

''I'm very proud of our girls and their many accomplishments throughout the season,'' she said.

Fitch's eight seniors garnered most of those accomplishments. Losing the likes of Youngstown State recruit Mikovich and Westminster recruit Butcher, the team also will lose Corradi, Welsh, Alex Coe, Mercedes Pratt, Billie Jo Cox and Chelsea Raymer.

''As I watched all eight seniors play on senior night, I took a moment to really just sit back and watch the smiles, the laughs and the pure joy they had playing the game together,'' Ward said. ''These seniors accomplished so much in their four years and they have really taken our program to the next level.''

Fortunately the Falcons have plenty of young ladies returning who are talented enough to continue pushing Fitch's program upward. Franken and Pierce should still be the main duo in the middle of the diamond for Fitch. Nicholette Zordich should return as a third year starter. The trio of Rezapourian, Luknis and McMenamin all made names for themselves this season too and all three should be better with another year of seasoning.



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