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Fitch coach enters second season with lots of seniors

March 22, 2018
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

Joe Paris will be entering his second season as head baseball coach at Fitch.

Paris' first season went well but ended dramatically when the Falcons were nipped 1-0 in the regional finals by Walsh Jesuit. It marked the second straight season that the Falcons fell in heartbreaking fashion to the Warriors. The latest loss still sticks in the craw of these Falcons.

"We're trying to recover," said Paris.

At least the sophomore coach has plenty of returnees to try and assist in that recovery. A total of 22 upperclassmen litter the Falcons 2018 roster, including a nearly record setting 14 seniors.

"We have great senior leadership," Paris said. "They have plenty of varsity experience and know what our program is."

Although Paris has so many seniors, he doesn't have a solid lineup figured out yet.

"Other than a couple spots we'll be battling (for jobs)," Paris said. "We have a lot of kids ready to step up. They are eager to take someone's spot. It should be a friendly competition."

One job that isn't up for grabs is number one starting pitcher. That role should fall into the capable left hand of junior Kenny Misik. The sharp southpaw was sensational as a sophomore when he assumed the top pitching duties. Misik was named the top pitcher of the All American Conference and should be even better with a year of experience under his belt.

"We will count on (Misik) a lot," said Paris.

Behind the junior hurler will be senior starters Nick Bianco, Cole Constance, Nick DeSalvo and Malik Caige. Caige did a commendable job in 2017 after transferring from Youngstown East and may do more on the mound this year. Another name to watch will be senior pitcher Cam Burton. This quintet along with Misik should have Fitch stacked on the hill.

"Some of the other guys will have to step up, but we should be solid," said Paris.

Pitching certainly wasn't the problem last spring for the Falcons. Hitting, on the other hand, was an albatross. Fitch only hit .250 as a team, leading to too many games when the pitching staff had to be nearly perfect to win. Shoddy defense also interfered with the team's success. Coach Paris had that in mind when the offseason program began for his ball club.

"We lost a lot of league games due to our defense and our offense," said Paris dejectedly. "We have changed up our drills to improve those areas. If the defense and offense hold up it'll be a solid year, if not it'll be a long year."

Fitch's season will kick off with a huge trip to Myrtle Beach to play in the annual tournament over Spring Break. The first game down south will be on Monday, March 26. Once the Falcons return home they will have a few games before bouncing into Red Tier action. The coach will be using these early contests as an audition for some of the open spots. Undoubtedly, seniors Mike Grazier, Vinny Direnzo, Nick Belcik, Kole Klasic, Jeremiah Papa, Larry Marstellar, Johnny Johnson and Tommy Pitko will all be in the mix to get into Paris' plans.

One would think that the Falcons are the most fortunate team in the conference when it comes to veteran players. Amazingly, that isn't true because Canfield has just as many twelfth-graders, Boardman's upper class is also its strength and defending division champion Howland returns it's number one ace pitcher. The Falcons held their own against the tough Red Tier teams a year ago, but had trouble sweeping the series. Winning a pair of games against some of these schools will help the Falcons ascend in the standings.

"We won a lot of first games of the series against the number one pitchers then lost the second games against the number two's," Paris said. "We hope to do better this season."



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