By Ty Bartell

AUSTINTOWN OH- In a highly anticipated matchup that marked the impromptu opening day of the 2024 softball season, the Austintown-Fitch Falcons clashed with the Canfield Cardinals in a showdown with 307 days in the making. Last year’s encounters between the two teams ended in stalemates, with both contests resulting in 4-4 ties after nine innings at Austintown and a 1-1 deadlock at Canfield on May 23rd.

Remarkably, both squads advanced to the state championship game following those matchups, with Canfield falling short against the Tallmadge Blue Devils and the Falcons clinching their inaugural softball state championship by defeating Anthony Wayne in the Division I final.

Returning to the diamond with much of their rosters intact, including their starting pitchers, Canfield relied on senior Buffalo commit Malena Toth, while Fitch was led by junior Georgia Tech commit Sydnie Watts.

As anticipated, the game unfolded as a pitching duel, with both Toth and Watts showcasing their prowess in the circle. The first three innings remained scoreless as batters struggled to find opportunities against the dominant arms, tallying strikeouts along the way.
However, in the bottom of the fourth inning, Fitch’s offense ignited, sparked by Abby Toth’s second hit of the game and followed by Kylie Folkwein’s two-run blast over the right-center field wall, propelling Fitch to a 2-0 lead.

The Falcons extended their lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, capitalizing on a Canfield error and driving in three more runs with an RBI double from Sydnie Watts and an RBI triple from Morgan Roby, securing a 5-0 victory on opening day.

Sydnie Watts continued her dominance in the circle, pitching her third consecutive opening day shutout, allowing just one hit, one walk, and striking out an impressive 15 batters. On the opposing side, Malena Toth pitched six innings, yielding eight hits, four runs, and striking out ten.

Both teams are scheduled to meet again on Tuesday, March 26th, although potential weather disruptions may necessitate changes. Stay updated with YSN for all game cancellations and developments throughout the season. Follow Austintown-Fitch and Canfield softball for live games, scores, stats, stories, and more on YSN as the season progresses.

Game Photos HERE: