YOUNGSTOWN OH- For the first time in three decades, the Fitch softball team is on its way to the OHSAA State Final Four. The Lady Falcons beat Walsh Jesuit 11-1 on Friday afternoon, winning the Division 1 Regional Championship and earning the right to play in the Division 1 State Semifinal for a chance to move on to the state title game. The Lady Falcons last appearance in the State Semifinal came in 1993 under then head coach Jerry Beltempo who led the team to an overall record of 25-4 and a win over Piqua before falling to Akron Springfield 1-0 in the State Championship Game.

After a scoreless first inning, Fitch got on the board when sophomore Samantha Severn reached second base on an error. Another error put Abby Toth on base which enabled Severn to reach third. Morgan Roby pulled off the suicide squeeze to bring Severn home for the game’s first run. The Lady Falcons took a 1-0 lead into the top of the third before the Lady Warriors got on the board after pitcher Sydnie Watts gave up a walk followed by an RBI single which tied the game at 1-1 heading into the bottom of the third.

From that point it was all Fitch. Caitlin Mitchell started the inning with a double followed by consecutive walks by fellow senior McKenna Hogan and freshman Kylie Folkwein. Samantha Severn brought Mitchell home with an RBI single which Abby Toth backed up with an RBI groundout. Roby would then reach on an error which brought in two RBIs to put the Lady Falcons up 5-1 after three. A solo home run by Sydnie Watts accounted for all of the scoring in the bottom of the fourth, but Fitch would add three more runs in the fifth as Toth and Roby had extra base hits. Pinch hitter Tina Montgomery scored Roby from third on an RBI single before Caitlin Mitchell tacked on another with an RBI single. Sydnie Watts, who also struck out eleven batters while giving up only four runs, was intentionally walked to put pinch runner Rachel Spalding on base to give McKenna Hogan the opportunity to knock in a run with an RBI groundout. Kylie Folkwein would strike out to end the inning with the Lady Falcons leading 9-1 going into the sixth.

In the top of the sixth, the defense kept the Lady Warriors off the board which gave Fitch the chance to seal the game. Severn started the bottom frame with a walk but was thrown out on a fielder’s choice which got Toth on base safely. Toth advanced to second base on a passed ball before Madi Beaudis knocked her in with an RBI single. Leadoff hitter Ayla Ray then hit a ground rule double and Caitlin Mitchell hit a walk-off RBI single to give Fitch an 11-1 win and a Regional Championship trophy.

The Lady Falcons will face the Lebanon Lady Warriors on Friday, June 2 in the State Semifinal at Firestone Stadium in Akron with the first pitch scheduled for 12:30pm. With a win, Fitch will take on the winner of the game between Whitehouse Anthony Wayne and Pataskala Watkins Memorial. The state title game is set for 3:00pm on Saturday, June 3.

*Contributed by Chris Lewis at austintownathletics.com