Softball Fitch Falcons Return to State Semifinals with an 8-2 Victory over Walsh Jesuit

YOUNGSTOWN – Last year the Austintown Fitch Falcons knocked off the Walsh Jesuit Warriors in the Division I Regional Championship to advance to the state semifinals. Although they didn’t run rule the Warriors this year, they once again showed their dominance as they throttled the Warriors 8-2 at YSU’s Covelli Sports Complex.

The victory improves the Falcons to 21-1 on the season as they advance to play the Fairfield Indians next Friday afternoon at Akron’s Firestone Stadium. First pitch is scheduled for 3:00 PM.

“We knew nothing was going to be given to us this year. We knew the target was going to be huge because of what this team was able to accomplish last year. We talked to them about that, and we still talk to them about it. But these girls thrive in these moments,” Falcons head coach Steven Ward added

Following two innings where the Falcons stranded five base runners, they finally touched home on a two-out, two-run single by junior second baseman Samantha Severn to stake the Falcons to a 2-0 lead. However, it was the next half inning where the momentum of the game took a turn.

Following a lead-off single by the Warriors' Kayla McGee to center field, she advanced to second on an error by the Falcons center fielder and then to third on a sacrifice fly by catcher Caleigh Shaulis. With McGee on third with just one out, Warrior’s shortstop Renee Brown hit a one-hopper to the Falcons pitcher Sydnie Watts who looked McGee back and fired to first. McGee decided to challenge the Falcons' first baseman Abby Toth but was called out at the plate.

“Syd played it perfectly,” Ward said. “Abby knew it was coming and Ky (Folkwein) knew it was coming. They executed it like we should, and I think it was a big momentum swing right there. It took the wind out of their sails and put it in ours.”

The Falcons would take full advantage of the momentum swing as they plated a single run in the bottom of the fourth as the Falcons’ third baseman Morgan Roby drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 3-0 in favor of the Falcons.

They would then blow the game wide open in the fifth following an RBI triple by Kaliana Ray to the center field fence, and an RBI ground out by her sister Ayla Ray that would make it 5-0. Sophomore catcher Kylie Folkwein then drilled a two-out, two-run homer over the left field fence to make it 7-0, followed by pitcher Sydie Watts crushing a home run to center to go back-to-back and boost the Falcons lead to 8-0.

The Warriors battled to the end as they scored twice in the seventh frame on a two-out, two-RBI single to right field by second baseman Brianna Wise to make it 8-2. Following a walk, Watts would close the game with a strikeout to send the Falcons to the state semis.

Watts would pick up the victory in the circle, pitching a complete game four-hitter. She would record 13 strikeouts on the night while surrendering 6 walks.

“My control wasn’t really there (tonight), and I was just trying to move my pitches,” Watts said. “They are a very good hitting team. And we got the big outs.”

Natalie Susa would suffer the loss for the Warriors as she gave up 8 runs on 13 hits and 4 walks. She would record 2 strikeouts in the game.