If you talk to experts and rival coaches in the area its almost unanimous that the Fitch baseball team will be one of the best this season.
This is almost the same Falcon flock that went 21-4 a year ago and made it all the way to the district championship before falling to Aurora. Fitch head coach Wally Ford also eclipsed the 200-win plateau for his career last year making it an extra special campaign.
If 2014 is to be even more special than 2013, Ford will need to rely heavily on his eight returning seniors. No doubt, that group was left with a bad taste in their collective mouths after getting eliminated by Aurora. With the talent shared by these elite eight that taste may turn from sour to spectacular.
Fitch's lineup is stacked from top to bottom with a great combination of power and quickness. Speedy senior second baseman Alex Sierra should bat at the top of Ford's order and is as slick on the base paths as he is when he's wearing his fielding glove. Also batting near the top is senior outfielder Shane Vitullo. Four other seniors, shortstop Scott Pierce, outfielder Luke Peterson, first baseman Phil Socha and third baseman Zack Miller will make up the power part of the starting nine.
Another senior who is lethal with the bat in his hands is Alex DiFrancesco. While DiFrancesco may be deadly at the plate, when he is facing other batters from the pitching mound he is even more dangerous. Fitch has some strong rivals in the All American Conference, but what may separate the Falcons from the field is their pitching. Not only do they have DiFrancesco, but the Falcons also start Pierce to form a dynamic one-two punch. There also is depth on this staff with senior hurler Trent Collins and junior Noah Suchora. Miller may be called upon to close games as well.
Closing out the conference will not be easy because schools like Canfield and Howland are talented as well. Canfield may be the Falcons biggest problem because they also sport a large contingent of seniors. Fitch will wait until the second half of the schedule before it confronts Canfield, but opening week games feature showdowns against Struthers and Poland so Coach Ford will get a good feel for the AAC early. A trip to Myrtle Beach in mid April to play in the annual Mingo Bay Classic is another highlight on Fitch's slate.
An impressive performance in South Carolina against some top-notch programs will go a long way in readying the Falcons for the state playoffs. If Fitch's supremely talented senior-led lineup plays up to its capabilities at that time, then a much better result in this year's district championship may be possible.