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Cards look for new softball boss

June 12, 2019
Nik Zirounis , The Town Crier

It was certainly an uncharacteristically below par season for the Canfield softball team in 2019.

Canfield's season came to a crashing halt after being shut out by Boardman in the Division I Solon Sectional final 6-0. That setback sent the Lady Cardinals to an 9-11 final record. It also, apparently, sent head coach Ray Melewski out of the program. Last week, Melewski was informed by incoming Canfield athletic director Mike Cochran that his contract would not be renewed for the 2020 season. That decision put a cap on the Canfield career of a man who embodied passion for the sport of softball and even a greater love for the girls he guided.

"It hasn't sunk in yet," Melewski said to reporters after being informed of the unfortunate decision.

Melewski held a 146-67 record at Canfield and took his team to three regionals in two different state divisions. In 2018, the Cardinals captured a district crown and an All American Conference Red Tier title. Defending that AAC championship was priority one for the Canfield kids this season, but a 5-4 record inside the league forced them to watch rival Austintown Fitch hoist the trophy. One major reason why the Cardinals were curtailed was the transfer of superstar starting pitcher KaiLi Gross from the program. Making matters worse was the fact that Gross moved on to play for archnemesis Poland. Exact details of that departure were never discovered, nor was there any indication that it played a part in the removal of Melewski, but it couldn't have helped. Cochran was noncommittal when probed for reasons why he decided to make the change.

"It's nothing I really want to discuss at this time," Cochran said from his school office this past Monday. "Nothing happened in particular."

The newly hired athletic director, who begins his role on August 1, offered a little more information when asked about hiring a new softball boss.

"Hopefully we'll find a new coach by the middle of July," he explained. "We'll look over the resumes we have and make a decision."

Cochran did add that at press time there weren't any internal candidates in the mix.

The former coach and the incoming A.D. met with each other on Tuesday, June 4 to discuss renovations at Canfield's home field. That conversation never materialized as Melewski was hit with the bombshell instead.

"I was told they want to go in a different direction," he said. "I can't believe it."

Whoever takes over in Canfield will inherit a very good nucleus despite the team's shortcomings this spring. Only four Cardinals graduated leaving the hired headman with a nice returning senior and junior class. Hopefully, that hire will display the same type of class that Coach Melewski possessed during his tenure.



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