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Lady Falcons host great talent for 2018

March 29, 2018
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

There will be a large amount of familiar faces on the field for the 2018 Fitch softball team.

Thirteen letter winners return to the Fitch roster from a group that came just two runs shy of winning a sectional championship last spring. Another familiar Falcon face will be longtime head coach Steve Ward who will look to his abundance of seniors and juniors to lead Fitch back to the sectionals. Ward is very confident that this close-knit crew can do just that.

"We have the potential to be a strong team," said Ward. "The players have committed to working hard and are eager to compete. Honestly, we have great chemistry right now. The players have gelled in workouts. We will come into the season with a great mindset."

The Lady Falcons will also come into this season with some great talent. There are potential all-league type hitters throughout Ward's lineup. Senior catcher Kacie Roth and juniors Lainie Simons, Kayla Kelty and Ashley Fuller all hit above .300 in 2017. Simons plays third base while Kelty and Fuller fill outfield spots. Fitch's coach is especially excited to see what Roth can do in her final season as a Falcon.

"Kacie brings a strong bat and a strong arm behind the plate," said Ward.

Senior Christina Tucker will be looking to earn her fourth letter, but this year she will play first base instead of the outfield. Another senior is Carolina Spalding who missed last season. Spalding's return to second base should be a huge boost offensively, defensively and in the dugout.

"We are extremely excited to get (Spalding) back into the infield," Ward said. "She brings such a love for the game and flat out is a playmaker."

Spalding should pair at the keystone with sophomore Ashley Mickey who Ward claims is leading the shortstop competition as of now.

Not only should the Falcons flourish on offense, but their pitching staff is very well balanced too. Fuller should get the bulk of the innings as she attempts to follow up on a sensational sophomore slinging season. Freshman Lydia Spalding may be the next girl up in Ward's rotation. Sophomores Courtney Schwind and Kaitlyn Evanko will also be in the pitching mix. Fitch's staff may be void of seniors, but it has the chance to be extremely deep and even more dependable.

"We have some depth at pitching," Ward said. "We do have a strong freshman and sophomore class where you can see some starters coming from the ranks."

Other underclassmen Ward cited as potential breakout candidates are Mickey, catcher/first baseman Jenna Chmelik and speedy Elyssa Molody.

Seniors Talia Diaz and Leeanna Franken as well as juniors Abby Brown and Kaitlyn Sciorinto will also get some innings in the outfield during the campaign.

Heading into camp all of these young ladies were aware that the only way they were going to erase the haunting memory of last spring was by putting in the extra work needed to improve. One huge area of emphasis for Ward's kids was getting better with their glove work.

"We have concentrated a lot on defense," said Ward. "We are an experienced group who learned quite a bit about ourselves through a difficult season last year. We regrouped and had a very dedicated offseason. The offseason has built character and leaders have been stepping up. We have a chip on our shoulder from last year and are very eager to prove ourselves."

The Fitch ladies will be tested right out of the gate with battles against Louisville, Ursuline and Struthers. The Lady Leopards feature an all-state starting pitcher. Home-in-home matches with conference rivals Canfield and Boardman will push the Falcons as well.

"Canfield and Boardman are strong contenders for the (All American Conference) so we look forward to great games against them," said Ward. "We will be ready for some good competition throughout our season."



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