AKRON OH- The 2023 OHSAA Division 1 Softball State Championship will feature the Austintown Fitch Lady Falcons after they beat Lebanon 3-0 on a steamy 90 degree day at Firestone Stadium in Akron on Friday afternoon. Pitcher Sydnie Watts tossed her fifth no hitter of the season giving her eleven for her career, and Samantha Severn came through in the clutch accounting for two of the team’s three runs.

After Watts and the defense retired the side in the top of the first inning, leadoff hitter Ayla Ray smacked a double to deep center to jumpstart the Lady Falcons offense. A bunt single by Watts brought in Ray for the game’s first score before pinch runner Tina Montgomery stole second and was moved to third by a McKenna Hogan single. With runners at second and third thanks to a stolen base by pinch runner Rachel Spalding, Severn stepped up and delivered with an RBI base hit. That would score Montgomery but Spalding was thrown out at the plate with Fitch leading 2-0 after one inning of play.

The Lady Falcons would threaten to add to their lead in the bottom of the third with Caitlin Mitchell hitting a double, but she would be left stranded there. In the next frame, Mitchell came up with three huge defensive plays on three consecutive grounders, the sequence highlighted by a diving stop on which she had to throw from her knees to get the out at first base. Sparked by the defensive effort, Kylie Folkwein got on base with a double before Severn came to the plate to knock Folkwein home with an RBI single which turned into a double on the unsuccessful throw to home plate. Severn would ulitmately end up on third thanks to an error on the play. But unfortunately, that was all the scoring for the Lady Falcons as the next three batters went down in succession. But, the 3-0 lead was all Fitch would need heading into the fifth inning. Watts went on to strike out six of the next nine batters before a ground out to first base sealed the win to send the Lady Falcons to the title game.

Fitch will now take their 22-0-2 record into the State Championship Game where they’ll play Whitehouse Anthony Wayne which moved to 28-3 after beating Pataskala Watkins Memorial 2-1 the earlier semifinal. First pitch is set for tomorrow at 3:00pm at Firestone Stadium in Akron.

*Contributed By Chris Lewis at