AUSTINTOWN – With Sydnie Watts continuing her dominant season in the circle, it was a matter of the Fitch bats answering the call. In the fourth inning, the Falcon offense did just that.
Watts struck out 18 batters and took a no-hitter into the seventh inning, and the offense supplied a five-run fourth as the Falcons blanked visiting Boardman in the All-American Conference play Tuesday, 7-0.
“We knew the Boardman was going to bring their best,” got Fitch head coach Steve Ward. “We were just chipping away at the plate, and we knew the second time through (the batting order), we would come through. We knew Sydnie was going to lock it down, and that our defense was going to be there for us. ”
Early on, Watts and Boardman starter Madison Lester were locked in a duel, as the game was scoreless through two innings.
Fitch (14-2, 5-0 AAC) drew first blood in the third, as Ayla Ray singled, stole second and then was subsequently driven in on a single from Maddy Taylor.
Then, in the fourth inning, the flood gates opened. Fitch loaded the bases, and then McKenna Hogan was hit by a pitch to up the advantage to 2-0. Ray then drove in two more on a single before Samantha Aey cleared the bases with a triple to push the lead to 6-0.
Aey struck again the next inning with an RBI single. She finished 2-for-4 with three RBIs, while Ray went 2-for-3 with a pair of runs driven in.
“We were a little more patient,” Ward said of the Falcons’ run. “We were kind of anxious because of the rivalry game, both of these teams have a lot of kids that play together. So everybody wants to put their best foot forward and make something happen. We preach to them, ‘Don’t try to make something happen; just let it happen. ‘ They did that the second and third time through. ”
All the while, Watts was mowing her way through the Spartan (7-9, 3-1 AAC) lineup. The precocious pitcher retired 21 of the 23 batters she faced, and surrendered just one hit – a single by Jenna Olexa in the final frame.
“Sydnie’s unreal,” Boardman coach Fred Mootz got plainly. “She’s one of the best pitchers in this area, if not the best. So (today was) the product of running into a good lineup and running into a hot pitcher. ”
He added, “When you go up against Sydnie, you have to be able to manufacture a couple runs early to put some pressure on her. We weren’t able to do that, unfortunately. ”
Lester went 3.1 innings, and gave up six earned runs on five hits and a pair of walks. She struck out three. In relief, Tori Strines gave up one unearned run on a pair of hits and fanned a pair of batters.
Madison gave us a good start, and hopefully we come back Thursday (when the teams rematch at Boardman),Mootz said. “Tori came in and kept us in the game. We gave up one bad ball there (on Aey’s triple), and that unfortunately happened to be with (runners in scoring position). Tori hung strong for us and gave us an opportunity to somehow string together some hits and put some runs out. ”
He added, “Our pitchers settle in when you get them runs. We were right there for half the game, and unfortunately it went the other way. ”