AKRON OH- The Austintown Fitch Lady Falcons can officially call themselves State Champions. The team won Saturday’s 2023 OHSAA Division 1 State Softball Championship Game by beating Whitehouse Anthony Wayne by a score of 6-1 at Firestone Stadium in Akron. The win marks the first state title in the program’s history and caps off a season that saw the team go undefeated with a record of 22-0-2.
After pitcher Sydnie Watts walked the first batter she faced, a steal followed by an RBI single put Anthony Wayne on top 1-0 after one inning of play. Neither team could generate much offense in the second, but Ayla Ray led off the top of the third with a bunt single and got to second base on an intentional walk of Watts. A Kylie Folkwein single brought Ray home to tie things up at one run apiece at the end of three where it would stay until Ray’s next at-bat.
The junior belted a solo home run to lead off the fifth and it was all Fitch needed to get the offensive juices flowing. Senior Caitlin Mitchell singled and then got to second safely on a wild pitch before stealing third. Folkwein then knocked a long triple which easily scored Mitchell for a 3-1 lead. The freshman then stole home on a passed ball to give Fitch some more breathing room. Samantha Severn singled and then took second base on a wild pitch after which a double by Madi Beaudis moved her to third where she also stole home after tagging up on a foul ball. Suddenly it was 5-1, Lady Falcons with two and a half innings left to play.
In the top of the seventh, Folkwein came through again with a monster double giving Fitch a runner in scoring position. A fielder’s choice put Severn out at first but the defense got greedy. Advancing to third on the fieder’s choice, an attempt to get a double play turned into an overthrown ball giving Folkwein the chance to score and giving Fitch a 6-1 lead.
Three outs away from their first ever state title, the Lady Falcons put their faith in sophomore pitching phenom Sydnie Watts to put the game away. She’d strike out the first batter before Anthony Wayne was able to put two runners on base, but Watts lived up to the hype with help from the defense before clearing the dugout for the postgame celebration with her fifteenth strikeout of the day.
It was a storybook ending to a storybook season which won’t soon be forgotten by anyone in Falcon Country.
*Contributed By Chris Lewis at austintownathletics.com